How Severe are Cymbalta Withdrawal Effects?
According to Lilly’s own clinical trials, in many cases, Cymbalta withdrawal reactions were moderate to severe. In the short term trials, one out of every ten patients experienced severe reactions. In one 52-week trial, at least one in six patients was severely affected. In another study, 25% of those who experienced withdrawal effects had severe reactions.
In 2008, the Annals of Clinical Psychiatry published a report of a 26-year-old woman who was so traumatized by the nausea, dizziness, and “electric shocks inside the head” when she tried to withdraw from Cymbalta that she requested to be put on another antidepressant immediately and “expressed a real fear of having these shock-like reactions again.” The authors observed that, “Antidepressants with a short half-life tend to be associated with a significant rate of DEAEs and a higher severity level” (emphasis added).
Cymbalta withdrawal effects, including extreme mood swings (anger, irritability), debilitating brain zaps, and physical and neurological problems, can be severe and extend for weeks and even months. The volume of patient complaints and the severity of the symptoms reported on multiple websites (including on such websites as the People’s Pharmacy and Depression Forums) leaves little doubt about the seriousness of Cymbalta withdrawal. In many patients, Cymbalta creates what amounts to a physical dependence that makes it nearly impossible to quit taking the drug.
How Long Does Cymbalta Withdrawal Last?
Like with any patient, the time it takes for a patient to stop experiencing withdrawal depends on the patient. According to Lilly’s own analysis of the Cymbalta studies, after a two week withdrawal period, over 50% of patients were still experiencing withdrawal side effects. Just how long the withdrawal effects lasted for those patients is unknown because Lilly never evaluated the effects of Cymbalta withdrawal beyond two weeks. This means patients and doctors have no idea just how long Cymbalta withdrawal could last.
Lilly’s conduct with respect to Cymbalta withdrawal is particularly suspect given that it was Lilly that orchestrated a campaign to promote Prozac as superior to other competing antidepressants such as Paxil and Zoloft based on the fact that Prozac had a long half-life and, thus, less frequent or severe withdrawal symptoms. While Lilly conducted studies in the 1990s comparing withdrawal rates of Prozac against other antidepressants in order to illustrate how much better Prozac was compared to the other antidepressants, Lilly never conducted similar studies of Cymbalta. Lilly knew, based on its research regarding Prozac, that with Cymbalta’s very short half-life, the drug would no doubt be associated with a high rate of withdrawal symptoms.