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livrwort

livrwort: Looking for a light at the end of Cymbalta

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livrwort

Hi -- Livrwort here. I found this site while looking for some hope. I have been dealing with depression off and on for years. there is definitely a family connection, but I  feel like I'm ready to be drug free, if i can be. I have tried Zoloft, Paxil,Prozac, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Buspar, and been on and off each, usually fed up with side effects. My first "anti-depressant" - so I thought at the time - was alcohol, which I quit 16 yrs ago.

 

About 4 or 5 years ago, i started Cymbalta, which I thought helped me. However, i gained weight and didn't feel things too much anymore. About a year ago, i decided i didn't want to be addicted to it anymore, and started tapering off. I had tried going to every other day before, with bad results, so this time I went from 7 days to 6 days to 5 days, etc., giving myself about 6-8 weeks between steps. I didn't know anything about the granule-counting business -- probably should have looked it up.

 

Anyway, it has been tough, but i am completely off Cymbalta now, for 3 weeks. This past 3 weeks has been the toughest thing i have ever been through. Physically, I feel ok -- I have a very physical job, and I think that has helped, but the worst thing physically is these "adrenaline rushes" I get. I don't know if this is common, but it is very tiring, and I have to fight the panic 100 times a day.

 

Mentally, it is a fight every day with overwhelming feelings of being useless and worthless, and feeling like there is no point to life. I don't have suicidal thoughts, per se, because there is no way I would ever do that to my husband and kids. But - I feel pretty bad much of the time, and have crying spells (very unlike me) almost daily, if I hear of see anything sad or even just "touching." That makes me feel like a complete idiot.  I do still get what people call "brain zaps," if I roll my eyes  - I have always called this "maraca head syndrome," because my head "sounds" inside like a maraca when it happens. There are still humorous moments - I guess that is a good sign.

 

I should mention that there has been a lot going on this past year. We have 5 children, and the last left home last Sept., so for the first time in 30 years, I don't have kids at home. Several friends have moved away, and I started the menopause journey as well, this fall. I donated a kidney to a friend in November, and my mother hasn't talked to me since, which has been rough, to say the least. 

 

I am very fortunate to have a wonderful husband, and kids, and I appreciate that they are supportive. None of them have taken anti-depressants, and I don't think they understand that the effects of stopping are not just a week or two of discomfort. It's a hard thing to communicate to someone who hasn't experienced it. My greatest hope is that this is a common experience, and that I will emerge from this terrible time and be ok. I don't want to be dependent on Cymbalta or anything else, if I don't have to be. I appreciate that there are so many people out there who are doing it, and I applaud you. I look forward to learning from you.

 

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Petunia

Hi livrwort,

 

Welcome and thank you for sharing your story with us.  I'm sorry you are feeling so unwell.  What you describe sounds very much like withdrawal, many of us here are very familiar with what you are going through.

 

I don't really understand how you stopped taking your medication, it sounds like you did it by skipping doses, we never advise this because it causes the nervous system to become destabilized.  You are only 3 weeks off, so there is a good chance you would be able to reinstate a small dose, stabilize there and feel a lot better, then in a few weeks you could begin a slow, safe taper from there.

 

Please have a look at our information about reinstating here:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/3079-about-reinstating-and-stabilizing-to-stop-withdrawal-symptoms/

 

Here are our tips for tapering off cymbalta, with information about opening the capsule and counting the pellets:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/283-tips-for-tapering-off-cymbalta-duloxetine/?hl=cymbalta

 

What dose of cymbalta were you taking when you stopped?

 

If you decide to try this, please let us know and we can help you decide how much to reinstate.  You may also find some help from our symptoms and self care section here:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/forum/8-symptoms-and-self-care/

 

Please read through the links and give reinstatement some consideration, withdrawal from an incorrect taper can last for a long time and you may be able to avoid it.  But don't take too long deciding, the faster you do it, the more chance it has of being successful.

 

You will find a lot of friendly help and support here

 

Petu.

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livrwort

Thank you Petu - I so appreciate any information. I was taking 60 mg a day, and you are right, I just started going down from 7 days a week to 6 to 5 to 4, etc. It took me a year+ as I didn't want to shock my system, but didn't think to look up how other people do it. The psychiatrist who prescribed it told me there is no protocol for quitting - she does not advocate quitting. I am open to anything at this point, and will read all your information. I am ignorant about much of this - the destabilized nervous system, etc., but will read everything and be back in touch as soon as I get through it. Thank you again. 

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Altostrata

Welcome, livrwort.

 

Those do sound like withdrawal symptoms. See http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/603-what-is-antidepressant-withdrawal-syndrome/

 

If I were you, I'd figure out how to take perhaps 5mg Cymbalta as soon as possible. The link Petu gave you explains how to do this http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/283-tips-for-tapering-off-cymbalta-duloxetine/

 

Withdrawal symptoms can last a very long time. We suggest reinstating sooner rather than later, it has more chance of working.

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livrwort

Hello and thank you for your information and support -- I read the links you suggested -- didn't understand the "destabilized nervous system" concept too much, but i gather from reading other posts that this must be the panicky adrenaline feelings i am fighting from the minute I wake up. I started taking some fish oil in hopes that it might help.

 

So, I opened 2 cymbalta and counted the beads -- 287 in one, 294 in the other. So, if i average those and then divide by 12, would that be considered 5 mg of a 60 mg capsule? I am willing to take it, as long as I know that sometime in the future i will be able to get off this drug completely. I was surprised that I had such a bad reaction to stopping, since I took over a year to taper down. Maybe it was because I have tapered down "wrong." Anyway, if "reinstating" might help me, couldn't I just put 24 beads back in the capsule and take that instead of putting it in applesauce?

 

May i ask if it is a common experience that I can be out working, feeling "ok" and then suddenly I will have a terrible feeling that I am going to die or that life has no point and everything is something to grieve about. Then, I fight my way through it and feel "ok" for another 10 minutes until suddenly...etc.etc. the same scenario 50 times a day. I feel like I am on a hamster wheel. I think I can handle any of this as long as I know there is an end to it.

 

If I take 5 mg of cymbalta, am I looking at doing so for some weeks or months and then going to 4, 3, 2, etc., and how will i know when it is ok to change the dosage? I  thank you again for taking the time to talk to me. It is a massive relief to know that there are people out there who are willing to help people trying to get life back, and I appreciate it so much. 

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Altostrata

Yes, your counting method is as good as any to approximate 5mg of Cymbalta.

 

The idea is to stabilize for a month or two, then very carefully reduce by 1 bead per month.

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Petunia
May i ask if it is a common experience that I can be out working, feeling "ok" and then suddenly I will have a terrible feeling that I am going to die or that life has no point and everything is something to grieve about. Then, I fight my way through it and feel "ok" for another 10 minutes until suddenly...etc.etc. the same scenario 50 times a day. I feel like I am on a hamster wheel. I think I can handle any of this as long as I know there is an end to it.

 

 

These kinds of mood swings are common in withdrawal.  I have read of others having many cycles through the day, like you, but for me I generally just feel bad all the time and then I will occasionally feel 'ok', suddenly.  I think that once your nervous system starts to settle down, these extreme, constant mood swings will decrease.

 

Recovery tends to happen in a pattern with some improvement and then a temporary return of symptoms, followed by more improvement, its often referred to as windows and waves, this thread explains it quite well:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/82-the-windows-and-waves-pattern-of-recovery/

 

When you get a chance, please would you put your drug and withdrawal history in your signature, it help members to easily see your situation when replying to your posts, instructions are here:

 

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/893-please-put-your-withdrawal-history-in-your-signature/

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livrwort

Thank you, Petu - I don't remember the dosages, etc. for a lot of the things I have tried, but I put a list on anyway. I appreciate your information about windows and waves -- very interesting. This last few weeks has been one long swim through the sewer, so I look forward to more windows.

 

I tried Altostrata's recommendation for 5 mg of Cymbalta and to my surprise, I felt better within two days. I am not feeling any "brain zaps" now.Many of the terribly dismal and fateful feelings I was having seem so extreme and unrealistic to me now, but I have to admit, that scares me a bit. It amazes me that 24 beads can make such a difference. Simple math is telling me that if I reduce Cymbalta by one bead a month, I have another two years to go before I am completely off the drug. I can hardly believe it will take that long, but I will do what I have to do. I don't know if I am searching the wrong terms, but i wonder if there is a good explanation of the concept of "destabilized nervous system" on the site.

 

Thank you for the help and information. I am seeing a possibility that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that is more than I have felt for a long time. Thank you again.

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livrwort

Back again -- I have been reading a lot of the topics and stories and suggestions over the past 2 weeks or so - but find myself lost again. After a few days of feeling a bit better on the 5 mg - I feel like I am right back where I was, wondering if there will ever be a good day again. I have been taking the fish oil and magnesium, trying the cognitive therapy link, getting my exercise - trying everything i can think of to feel better, but after that initial couple of days of relief, the overwhelming feelings of uselessness and worthlessness are back, with all of the overreacting and sadness and crying. One minute I can tell myself someday everything will be ok, and the next minute I wonder if I'm going to be a lost crazy person, with no hope. Any suggestions? Or do I just need to bull my way through this and hope a light will appear and I will "stabilize"?

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Altostrata

Is there any pattern to these symptoms? Please keep daily notes on paper.

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Rhiannon

Back again -- I have been reading a lot of the topics and stories and suggestions over the past 2 weeks or so - but find myself lost again. After a few days of feeling a bit better on the 5 mg - I feel like I am right back where I was, wondering if there will ever be a good day again. I have been taking the fish oil and magnesium, trying the cognitive therapy link, getting my exercise - trying everything i can think of to feel better, but after that initial couple of days of relief, the overwhelming feelings of uselessness and worthlessness are back, with all of the overreacting and sadness and crying. One minute I can tell myself someday everything will be ok, and the next minute I wonder if I'm going to be a lost crazy person, with no hope. Any suggestions? Or do I just need to bull my way through this and hope a light will appear and I will "stabilize"?

 

This is a typical pattern. People often do notice immediate improvement with a small reinstatement, which then goes away, then comes and goes. It's very frustrating and the intense hopelessness and despair type emotion that comes with withdrawal, doesn't help. It's hard to think clearly and not just react. It's hard to remember that there's hope, especially if you haven't been through the cycle many times before. (And even that isn't much help.)

 

By far the majority of the time what works best for people is to stay on that small dose and to be very consistent with their meds (amount, time of day, etc.) and just ride it out until they stabilize. Some people will uptick their dose by another small increment just to see if it helps; usually it is like before, it helps a bit, but the waves and windows pattern still does return. Sometimes the uptick makes them feel worse. It's hard to say. 

 

The tradeoff is, if you make another change, then your system has to start it's "stabilizing period" all over from scratch, and at some point the changes themselves become the problem. 

 

Given your history I think you can be confident that if you hang in there, you'll eventually feel better, and gradually, over coming months, the bad times will become less frequent and less intense and you'll be feeling better almost all the time.

 

The feelings you describe are typical and normal for withdrawal. All of us here have been through them. It's awful, but you can survive. We don't know of any quick trick or "fix." The Symptoms and Self-Care area of the forum has a lot of information on ways to cope and the things that we have found help with getting through it.

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livrwort

Thank you - as usual, the most helpful thing is feeling I'm not alone - that this is not a sign that I'm crazy - I hope not anyway - and I appreciate the words. I am trying to be "proactive" about trying the things that have helped other people. I will just bull my way through it, then. There doesn't seem to be a pattern - that I can discern, anyway. It's more like windows and walls for me - blocks of gray with an occasional glimpse of something positive. Thank you both again for your words.

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Petunia

Thank you - as usual, the most helpful thing is feeling I'm not alone - that this is not a sign that I'm crazy -

 

I completely agree and find if comforting to know that so many of us go through the same patterns of increasing and decreasing symptoms.  Every time I find myself in a wave, I need reassurance, its like part of the withdrawal process is that it wipes out all memory of previous improvement or what we have learned.

 

You are certainly not alone and not crazy, even though it can feel like that at times.  I find that reading through the experiences of others can help.

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livrwort

I can relate to so many of these posts -- I haven't posted for many months,  have just been struggling and struggling through withdrawal from Cymbalta. I took my last dose, after reinstating and tapering down, bead by bead, in June, 2014. Sometimes -- often -- I wonder if I will ever be ok again. The last year has just been a blur of mental pain. As soon as I wake up in the morning, the most terrible feelings of fear and dread just crash in on me, regardless of how much I try to calm myself and reassure myself that I am safe, that everything is ok. "Talking sense" to myself doesn't seem to have any effect. I know my thinking is irrational, but those thoughts of fear of everything are just THERE. I have to jump out of bed to dissipate those feelings, but usually have to battle through a crying episode, full of fear and terror of dying, before I force myself out the door to work.

 

I also find myself isolating myself and losing touch with friends, spending way too much time alone, wondering what the point of anything is, being so fearful of traveling or anything new. I have been trying many things to feel better -- started doing yoga, volunteering a couple of times a week, getting more exercise, seeing a therapist, forcing myself to go out and engage with people when I can. I know meditation can be a big help, and I have been trying it -- but having trouble with crying. Unfortunately, I don't feel like anything is helping me. Or maybe it is, but I just don't feel it consciously yet. I keep waiting for that day when  I wake up and feel good again. Strangely, the best time for me is right before I go to bed, when I often think that I feel pretty good and have hope for the next day. Then, when I wake up, it starts again.

 

I start to wonder if I trained my brain to "need" antidepressants and now can't function well without them. I read about and tried 5HTP in a book about menopause (yes, that is happening too), not really thinking it would work, and after 2 weeks, I DID feel better -- lighter, more free of those awful doomsday thoughts. I really thought I was out of the depression stuff, and then after about 3 weeks, it just stopped working, and it was almost worse then, to have felt better and then be back in the sewer. 

 

I work outside, and that is probably the biggest help to me -- besides my incredibly supportive husband. That poor guy has been through the wringer, trying to be understanding when I am crying my eyes out for no apparent reason, or when I am beside myself with fear of everything and nothing. He tells me that I have been poisoning yourself for years with the antidepressants, so it is asking too much to expect to feel healed after 7 months off. But, sometimes I find myself wondering if this is what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life, and the thought is just too awful. 

 

Even though I don't want anyone else to feel as bad as I do, it is a comfort to know that I am not alone. I will be trying the suggestions in the other posts. I am always looking for things to try, and I am sending my best wishes out to all of you, and my hopes for your and my recovery.

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cymbaltawithdrawal5600

lw,

 

I moved this post to your thread in the Intro forum because it contains primarily an update on your status. You may want to book mark it so you can get to it easily (press ctrl+D while viewing it).

 

Recovering from the long term use of cymbalta is very difficult, the link to my story is in my sig. There were no pills to help. In fact my use of a rx antihistamine for a possible sinus inflammation led to me experiencing protracted wd sx that are only now clearing up at the start of year 3. Life does get better but it is because of time and not pills that we might to think to shove into our bodies. I experienced my worst depression ever while off the drugs but it went away. Even if it comes back i know it is only temporary and not indicative of any "prior condition".

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livrwort

Ok, sorry about the misplaced post. I hope it is true that life gets better. Thanks.

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cymbaltawithdrawal5600

Life does indeed get better but no one really knows how long it will take for any individual person.

 

If you can manage it, could you edit your signature to indicate how long you were on cymbalta, how you tapered off and how long the taper was and the date of your last medication? It saves having to read through your thread to get this information each time.

 

In the mean time, I will look over your thread and see if there is anything I can say that might make you feel better about what you are going through, ok?

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cymbaltawithdrawal5600

I have finished reading your thread and I am a bit confused: you started back in 5 mg (24 beads) of cymbalta in March 2014 and you (accuurately) predicted you would be off, if all want well, 2 years later, March 2016. But you state you were off all medication by June 2014? I am afraid you may have put yourself back into wd syndrome with the rapid taper. I will wait for you to clarify this before I say more.

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