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Cymbalta. Duloxetine. Two different names, one medication. Cymbalta is used to treat anxiety and depression, but can also be used to help treat nerve pain, chronic back pain, and fibromyalgia. You see commercials about Cymbalta on and off on TV, and they list the side effects so fast that it just sounds like a bunch of gibberish. What are the real side effects? Well, there is a long, long list of side effects. I won't list them all, but I will list the side effects that I experienced while on it.
Now, everyone reacts to Cymbalta differently. My best friend, Amanda, takes it, and it has helped her tremendously, it was her game changer. My aunt also takes it, and it has helped her too. Again, we all get different reactions. Sometimes your body agrees, other times it doesn't. Well, my body didn't agree. In fact, when I was on it, I was scared. Let me give you the backstory first before I dive into the side effects I had.
Initially, I had wanted to try Cymbalta for maybe 5-6 months before I actually got the prescription for it. I have wide-spread pain from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, plus chronic back pain from a failed spine surgery. I also have anxiety and depression, so I thought this would be the perfect medication for me. I had a little trouble with my insurance for getting the prescription approved, but the minute it was ready, I raced into the pharmacy, picked it up, and went home, eager to start it. Without reading the information fliers, I took my first dose. I started on 20mg, the lowest dose. First day went by, I felt okay. Second day went by, I felt okay. By the third day, however, I started to feel "off." Like, you know something doesn't feel right, but can't exactly pinpoint where the feeling is coming from. Those next 3 1/2 weeks were hell for me, and I'll tell you why.
I was on Prozac at the time for my anxiety and depression, so I was instructed to cut down the dose. So, instead of 40mg of Prozac, I took one pill of 20mg with the Cymbalta (also 20mg). On the third day, my back pain became excruciating, and it has been ever since. I have a pretty good idea that the Cymbalta caused it, but of course, I can't prove it. Then, the dizziness came. I would be walking in a store, and I would get random dizzy spells, so bad that I would have to hang onto my grandma to keep from falling. For me, Cymbalta caused high blood-pressure, so I also had to watch that. My pulse was always racing, no matter if I was laying down or standing up. The worst part, and scariest part, however, is that I felt like a zombie, and I felt suicidal. I would space out at random times, no matter what I was doing. My schoolwork suffered tremendously, I had to repeat a quarter because I just couldn't concentrate. I've always struggled with depression, but I had never thought of harming myself or killing myself, until I started Cymbalta. It made my depression 100 times worse. I thought of death constantly. I messaged my doctor, and I told him what was happening, so he had me wean off of it. First week, take it every other day for two weeks. After that, every three days for two weeks. Then, every fourth day for two weeks. I experienced withdrawal symptoms, like worsened dizziness, suicidal thoughts... I knew if I kept taking it, no matter if I kept weaning off of it, I would've ended up harming myself. So, one day, I just stopped taking it completely, and I haven't ever since. I've been through a lot in the past two years, but being on Cymbalta was one of the scariest. For now, I just take Prozac, and am slowly increasing my dose back up to 40mg.
Please, if you consider taking Cymbalta or your doctor suggests it to you, read the fliers and do your research. Again, it works great for some, but not all. Just because a medication sounds perfect for you, doesn't mean that it will be. I had to learn that the hard way, and I don't want that to happen to anyone else. If you do end up taking it, researching it, and reading fliers about it, ask yourself this: is it really worth the risk?