Cymbalta withdrawal, panic attacks and anxiety

During marketing of other SSRIs and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors), there have been spontaneous reports of adverse events occurring upon discontinuation of these drugs, particularly when abrupt. Although these events are generally self-limiting, some have been reported to be severe. This withdrawal phenomenon is known as the SSRI discontinuation syndrome.

The manufacturer of cymbalta, Eli Lilly, warns that one should not suddenly stop taking this medicine, as this may cause withdrawal symptoms such as dizziness, pins and needles sensations, nausea, difficulty sleeping, intense dreams, headache, tremor, agitation or anxiety. Withdrawal symptoms are temporary and are not the same as addiction.

Discontinuation symptoms systematically evaluated in patients taking duloxetine following abrupt discontinuation in MDD placebo-controlled clinical trials of up to 9-weeks duration, the following symptoms occurred at a rate greater than or equal to 2% and at a significantly higher rate in Cymbalta-treated patients compared to those discontinuing from placebo: dizziness; nausea; headache; paresthesia; vomiting; irritability; and nightmare.

In another trial by Detke and colleagues, discontinuation rates were more frequent in duloxetine-treated patients and the most frequent adverse events were nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, and constipation.

Data obtained from 9 clinical trials assessing the efficacy and safety of duloxetine in the treatment of major depressive disorder by Lilly Research found that patients with discontinuation-emergent adverse events (DEAEs) were reported by 44.3% of duloxetine patients, with an average of 2.4 DEAE's per patient. The report stated that abrupt discontinuation of duloxetine is associated with DEAE profiles similar to that seen with other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressants. 35% of DEAE's lasted longer than one week.

Subsequently, the Lilly team recommended that, "whenever possible, clinicians gradually reduce the dose no less than 2 weeks before discontinuation of duloxetine treatment."

Many patients on the drug longer than the Lilly test trials on discontinuation (which only studied patients after 9 weeks of exposure to cymbalta), report anecdotal evidence of major withdrawals from cymbalta lasting from weeks to months.



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