Tuesday, July 15, 2014

MY STORY: How I Overcame Cymbalta Withdrawl

***DISCLAIMER***  I am not a medical professional, and the following statements are not endorsed by any medical professional.  Therefore, my advice should not replace medical advice.  Additionally, my condition is Clinical Depression, so these statements may not apply to different mental illness or psychiatric conditions!

That being said, not everybody has good experiences with doctors, or the ability to find a new doctor when one fails you.  That is definitely the case with me, so I want to share my story of getting off Cymbalta in case there is even one person anywhere that I can help.

If you are reading this, you are probably aware by now, that withdrawing from Cymbalta causes HORRIBLE side effects in almost EVERY case of coming off the medication.  In many cases, even taking the drug at all causes terrible effects on individuals, and then, when they attempt to come off it, they suffer even more traumatically.  NOTE: NEVER START TAKING CYMBALTA ASSUMING IT WON'T BE AN ISSUE BECAUSE YOU PLAN TO ALWAYS TAKE IT.  CYMBALTA IS VERY EXPENSIVE AND CAN BECOME HARD TO OBTAIN FOR WHATEVER REASON, AND IT ALSO COMMONLY STOPS WORKING AND YOU MAY HAVE TO COME OFF IT.  Know what you're going to face before considering consuming this pharmacutical.

In my case, I have two instances of Cymbalta withdrawl to report.  The first time I came off was not by choice, I ran out and it was six days before I could obtain more.  WORST SIX DAYS OF MY LIFE.

And I been through some shit, you know what I'm sayin'?

Fast forward several years, Cymbalta had completely stopped working for me.  And due to the side effects it caused me all along, and the fact that I couldn't treat my depression with something else because of interaction with the Cymbalta, I HAD to stop taking it.  By then, I was on double the dose from the time I'd run out, so withdrawl utterly terrified me.  As in, I preferred the thought of a bullet in my head to attempting to withdraw from Cymbalta.  I went to my doctor, and she failed me in epic proportions.  That's all we'll say 'bout that.  So, I was thinking, I guess I'll just keep taking it because, I can't do it.  Cannot.  Not strong enough.  Meanwhile, my life was falling apart.

One day I decided, doctor's help or not, I had to kick it.  I had to face this demon in order to get my life back and move on.  So I did extensive research on getting off the drug, without a doctor's help, and without the dangerous withdrawl.  I have two small children.  They need me.  I don't have the ability to lay in bed for weeks and detox.  There had to be a way...

I started with this website, The Road Back.  Gotta say, EXCELLENT resource.  And, the fact that this exists at all, is a major red flag about this EVIL EVIL drug.  But, I really feel this website saved my life, no joke.  I studied their advice down to the letter, and read all about their advice of taking certain supplements that will keep you out of the full on withdrawl.  NOTE: AFTER ALL THE RESEARCH I DID, I DID NOT OPT TO BUY THEIR PARTICULAR SUPPLEMENTS.  I WASN'T SURE IF THE DIETARY SUPPLEMENT METHOD WOULD WORK, SO I DIDN'T FEEL COMFORTABLE PAYING THE PRICE FOR THOSE.  HOWEVER, NOW THAT I KNOW THAT SUPPLEMENTS WORK, I DO FEEL CONFIDENT RECOMMENDING THEIR PRODUCT.  THE SUPPLEMENTS I EVENTUALLY SELECTED WORKED AMAZINGLY BUT DID NOT COMPLETELY SPARE ME ILL AFFECT AND THE ROAD BACK SUPPLEMENTS PROBABLY WOULD'VE BEEN BETTER.

So here is the short version of what I learned.  Entering the assumption that you are coming off Cymbalta because they are causing you bad side effects, or they have stopped working and you are experiencing the bad effects again that Cymbalta once diminished, you begin the supplement regimen at least one week before you begin stepping down the dosage.  The theory is that the supplements should correct bad effects you're having BEFORE you begin withdrawing Cymbalta, and in that time, you can tweak your dosages as needed so that you're not dealing with working out the supplements while withdrawing from Cymbalta.  HOWEVER, even if you're just quitting Cymbalta because it's too expensive, but you're not having bad effects, still begin the supplements at least one week before stepping down.

Here is the laundry list of supplements that I used.  Following the list you will find exact instructions for how I took them that worked for me.  All my supplements were the Spring Valley brand from Walmart, other than Dramamine and one supplement I couldn't find there and got from Amazon.

  Super B Complex.  Helps make sure you're full of important nutrients specific to the withdrawl process that a lacking of could contribute to your physical withdrawl problems.  The vitamin itself tastes yucky and may give you a slightly upset stomach, but nothing debilitating.

Fish Oil with Omega 3 I believe all Fish Oil has Omega 3, but in this case make sure you get the kind with the added Omega 3 blast.  Omega 3 is great for brain health, and Fish Oil gives you a natural metabolism boost.  This is important because your metabolism plays a role in Cymbalta withdrawl.

Ginko Biloba  This was the one that I added to the plan myself, not based on research I found from others.  I chose it because I knew dizziness was going to be a factor, and also Cymbalta withdrawl can literally cause a "fog" to descend over your mind and not lift...  I can't take dizziness medication and stay awake, so I hoped this supplement would help me feel less dizzy and foggy headed when I began to withdraw.  It did help me avoid the fog, but I did add Dramamine to the arsenal later.

5-HTP  This little baby, is my new hero.  I had NO knowledge of this dietary supplement, and now, this will be the antidepressant I try if I feel like I can't cope.  It affects serotonin in the brain and was very important in withdrawl from Cymbalta, because it prevent the utterly devastating crash that happens when Cymbalta is eliminated.  However, unlike Cymbalta, you are free to STOP taking it when you're ready without physical withdrawl effects.

 L-Tyrosine  L-Tyrosine is the other one, like 5-HTP that is important in balancing the emotional withdrawl effects from Cymbalta which can be EVEN WORSE than the physical.  Additionally, based on my research, I found some users report some drowsiness from the 5-HTP and some jitters from the L-Tyrosine, and so they can balance each other out.  I personally had not side effects from either, and they worked as I hoped they would.  L-Tyrosine was the only one I couldn't get at Walmart, but if you clink the link, it will take you to the Amazon listing for the exact one that I used.

Dramamine  I did not use Dramamine until later in my process, once I had started withdrawing the Cymbalta.  Dramamine makes me EXTREMELY drowsy, whether it's non drowsy or not, so I didn't plan on using it if I could do without it.  However, as soon as I started withdrawing Cymbalta, I knew I needed more for the dizziness, so I added Dramamine at bedtime, and it helped me tremendously.  So I do recommend you go ahead and include it in your regimen, even if it does make you sleepy.  It has long lasting effects, so taking it at bedtime will still benefit you the next day.

Last but not least, if you are going to try the regimen I'm about to detail for you, you will need empty gel caps.  I got these on Amazon here.

OK, whew.  I know, it seems like a lot, but it is so well worth it, and you do not have to take the supplements forever, don't worry.  Here is the supplement schedule I used:

Wake up:
1 5-Htp tab
1 Ginko tab
1 Fish oil tab

Lunch time:
1 L-Tyrosine tabe
1 B-Complex

Dinner time:
1 Ginko
1 Fish oil
1 5-Htp


During the one week period of taking the supplements before you begin withdrawing from the Cymbalta, take notes on how you respond to the supplements, and make changes as needed.  For instance, I didn't originally take the Ginko in the A.M. and I changed that so that I could get the blast of "fog reducer" as soon as I woke up.  You may also notice you should change certain eating habits to better support the supplements.  That's why it's important to keep a journal about it.  Changes are temporary, so just remember it's worth it!!!

Once you're all set on the supplements, you will begin withdrawing the Cymbalta by reducing the dose.  Eventually you will taper down to having no Cymbalta, and from the time you take your last Cymbalta, I believe it is physically out of your system in 10 days, but the withdrawl EFFECTS can persist long after that, so that it is why it's important to keep taking the supplements even once Cymbalta is eliminated, to keep avoiding full on withdrawl.

Here is the plan I mapped out for myself exactly to get off this monster drug:
Week 1, take Cymbalta as normal, begin taking supplements
Week 2, (assuming you're on 60 mgs of Cymbalta) Prepare several 30 mg capsules of Cymbalta (by breaking your Cymbalta capsules, and splitting the little white balls inside between two of the empty capsules from Amazon.)  Begin alternating days, one day taking 60, next day take 30, meanwhile also taking the supplements.
 Week 3, Step down to taking all 30 mg tablets of Cymbalta and supplements.
Week 4, Begin rotating days again, one day taking 30 mg Cymbalta, next day none.  So an and so fourth for seven days. (continue supplements RELIGIOUSLY)
Week 5, Cymbalta one day, none for two days, etc.  Continue supplements.

Continue slowly eliminating the Cymbalta in this manor until you're down to none.  You can also add in a rotation of a 15 mg dosage of the Cymbalta that you create with the empty capsules, if you want to take even longer to taper it out of your system.  Then, once you are down to none, continue taking the supplements until withdrawl symptoms diminish.  You see, you will still feel withdrawl effects.  The supplements just make the difference between debilitating, and manageable.  Eventually you will begin to notice that you're not feeling those effects at all.  Then, you may discontinue the supplements, and for me, cold turkey was fine for that.  I was careful to choose supplements for myself that didn't ALSO cause withdrawl like Cymbalta.


Now, this plan I've outlined for you seems pretty lengthy, and also taking a whole closet of supplements every day isn't really appealing, I know.  So if you're considering your own withdrawl journey, you may still feel pretty discouraged.  But, one thing to remember, people who come off this drug, even with a taper down program, but WITHOUT the supplements, often report debilitating withdrawl and detox for MONTHS.  Let me give you a run down of what withdrawing from Cymbalta was like me, using the cold turkey method vs. a supplement and plan method:

My withdrawl symptoms COLD TURKEY:
Dizziness (to the extent of falling down, walking into walls, injuring myself, and driving OUT OF THE QUESTION.)
Migraine head aches/seizures (I was prone to both those things before starting Cymbalta, but only very rarely.  Cold turkey withdrawl triggered them EVERY DAY.)
Black depression
Brain Fires (painful, blinding)
Confusion, disorientation, fog (as in, would not have known how to get home if I'd gone somewhere alone.  Yes.  That bad.)

My withdrawl symptoms WITH SUPPLEMENTS:
Dizziness (just a little annoying, not debilitating, made better with sleep or lying down)
Brain fires (mostly when lying down, not painful)
Mild depression
Some trouble concentrating (however, this is a problem of mine anyway, so...)
Headaches were the most amazing part of this.  Being prone to them anyway, I still expected to get migraines and seizures even with the supplements.  HOWEVER, my headaches went away ALTOGETHER while doing this regimen.  Even while I withdrew the Cymbalta.  Could NOT believe it.  This lead me to believe that Cymbalta actually caused more headaches... 

As far as vomiting and diarrhea, yes, that's still going to be an issue, however, it was also not nearly as bad as the time I had to go cold turkey without Cymbalta.  I only had one day with actual vomiting and tremors, and even that day, I still managed to go about my business for the day.  At the tail end of the whole thing, my stomach was quite upset for several days, but that was while I was coming off of all the supplements all at once, cold turkey, and without any other effects.  You're going to be throwing a lot at your body with the supplements, so for me personally, upset stomach was a pretty good tradeoff for everything else this program did for me.

So, here's the good news:  It didn't take me 7 weeks.  It took a total of 3 weeks from starting the supplements for the "trial" period to being totally free of Cymbalta and all the supplements.  Yep.  That's it.  Once I started to reduce my dose from 60 to 30, withdrawl effects began.  Though they weren't that bad, I knew they were there.  So, since I felt confident the supplements were working, on a weekend when my husband would be home off work, I decided I'd go ahead and not take any Cymbalta.  If I suffered ill effect because it was too soon, I planned to immediately resume the Cymbalta and the scheduled program.  But, the supplements totally kept all the effects at bay.  Yep, it still sucked!  But not that much.  Having gone off Cymbalta now both responsibly and irresponsibility, I am confident in saying it didn't suck that much.  Today is my third day of being clean of the Cymbalta (thirteen days out) and the supplements (3 days out).  I feel like a million bucks.  The only remaining effect is the brain fires when I lay down.  I look for those to be around for a long time, if not always now, and I'm not gonna sweat it.  I consider myself blessed.

One more thing...  People tend to think when I endorse a particular product on my blog it's because I got the product for free.  I did not get any product named here for free, nor did any of the manufacturers ask me to review them.  Same goes with The Road Back folks.  I read probably EVERY word on their website, but I did not contact them, they have no clue who I am.  I put this out there because I know there are other people in the world like me, who need help and have no one to help you.  That's why I wrote this.  Because it worked for me, and if you're in the dark place Cymbalta can take you, I would love to be the light to show you out.