Side Effects of Cymbalta

Every year or so I get curious as to  whether pharmaceutical science has actually addressed whatever part of my brain that is causing the horrible anxiety, depression, and OCD-type symptoms.  At that time, I will say to whatever psychiatrist I am seeing at the time:  “What else is there?” and they will start me on a trial of whatever is popular.   Last year I tried Cymbalta.

First, before you say “Cymbalta isn’t even indicated for anxiety and depression, that is a fibromyalgia drug,” yes, I know this, and so does my doctor.  I am the person with medication-resistant depression, remember, so doctors are always trying medications on me to see if I can be one of those “off-label” cases.  I am positive pharmaceutical companies encourage doctors to do this so they can document the effectiveness of these medications and expand their official usages through the FDA so they can sell more.  I know, this makes me sound really cynical, but from my extensive experience in this field, I can tell you that I have seen drugs come and go, have seen drugs morph into “on-label” treatments for anxiety and depression, etc.   You can also skip sending me an email telling me that I “Just didn’t try it for long enough” or telling me how stupid you think my doctor is.   I enter into all of these medication experiments with an open mind and attempt to stay on the medication for as long as possible.  My one and only rule is that if I feel significantly worse (like, panic attack worse) within days of taking the medication, I will stop, because truly “the devil I know” (meaning, anxiety, depression, OCD) is better than the “devil I don’t know” (meaning, how bad are these side effects going to get?).    I tried to “hang in there” with both Paxil and Wellbutrin, and ended up having to go to the ER in both cases, so I have to really watch how far I let it go.

I’m sure you can tell which direction this story is going.  Within the first couple of days of taking half of the 60mg Cymbalta, I already had restless leg syndrome (although I don’t know if you can really call it that, since it involved ALL OF MY LIMBS).  The whole “I can’t stop moving my arms and legs” thing required more Klonipin to get it under control.   As you might have read elsewhere on this site, I am extremely committed to not raising the dosage of Klonipin (clonezepam) that I take, so I already knew that if the restless limbs thing continued, I was going to have to stop taking it.   I did have some trouble going to sleep that evening (I always take medication in the morning for this very reason), though I slept fine and the effects seemed to be less the next day.

Oh, in case you’re curious, here are some of the reported side effects of Cymbalta (actually duloxetine).  I am going to put an asterisk next to the ones I experienced:  weight gain, dizziness*, insomnia*,


One thing I did read alot about was the “cymbalta withdrawal effect,” meaning that many, MANY people have found it extremely difficult to quit Cymbalta once they have been on it consistently.


Bottom line:  for me, the negative side effects of cymbalta were enough to stop me from continuing with the trial.