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The depression and anxiety drug Cymbalta has been linked to severe withdrawal side effects when patients discontinue use.

Did you suffer brain zaps and severe withdrawal?
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The medication Cymbalta has been used by millions of patients in the United States over the past decade. Unfortunately, thousands have reported severe withdrawal side effects that weren’t disclosed by the manufacturer.

Cymbalta is the brand name for the drug duloxetine sold by Eli Lilly. It is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), which works by slowing the absorption of serotonin and norepinephrine (NE) in the central nervous system, and promoting the production of dopamine.

The drug is commonly prescribed for depression, anxiety and pain due to nerve damage, fibromyalgia or musculoskeletal issues. However, Cymbalta has been linked to side effects and severe withdrawal symptoms for many of those who attempt to discontinue its use. A number of federal lawsuits are also pending against the manufacturer by affected patients.

In short:

  • Used by millions for depression and anxiety.

  • Never recalled but has major withdrawal side effects.

  • Attorneys are working with former patients to file severe withdrawal lawsuits.

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Side Effects

Users have experienced severe withdrawal side effects when discontinuing use of the drug. Patients have reported vision problems, brain zaps, loss of balance, headache and many other withdrawal type side effects.

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Legal Assistance

Legal experts believe that, due to the widespread use of Cymbalta and the occurrence rate of discontinuation side effects, thousands of patients who experienced severe complications may eventually come forward to join the litigation.

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Latest News

For the latest and most up to date information on Cymbalta side effects and the Cymbalta litigation, please visit our news section. We are constantly updating this section.

Assistance is available. Speak with a patient advocate today.


Cymbalta was initially discovered by researchers working for Eli Lilly in 1986 and tested thereafter in clinical trials at varying dosages. The FDA first denied approval in 2003 due to manufacturing violations and concerns over liver toxicity.

In 2004, Cymbalta was approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression and nerve damage resulting from diabetes. This came only after Lilly agreed to add warnings to product inserts and prescribing information about potential liver damage.

In 2008, Cymbalta became only the second drug ever to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of pain associated with fibromyalgia.

Lastly, the FDA approved Cymbalta to manage chronic musculoskeletal pain associated with the lower back and osteoarthritis in 2010. Eli Lilly sought approval for use of the drug to treat stress urinary incontinence, however, this has been denied by the FDA.

Cymbalta is available in dosages of 20 mg., 30 mg. and 60 mg. that are in the form of capsules. There is no liquid form of the drug.

In recent years, Cymbalta was the number-one selling drug for Eli Lilly. With use by millions of patients each year, it earned approximately $4.8 billion for the company as late as 2012. However, Lilly’s exclusive patent for Cymbalta expired on January 1, 2014. Since then, a number of generic alternatives have entered the market and sales have dropped.

Although all antidepressants have the potential to cause withdrawal symptoms upon discontinued use, reports have shown these to be especially severe for users of Cymbalta. Health experts have warned of the effects of Cymbalta withdrawal and encourage patients to only taper its use under the direction of a doctor. Also, patients who suffered severe effects have filed lawsuits in federal court against Eli Lilly for their failure to properly warn of the risks.




Warnings over the side effects, effectiveness and risks related to Cymbalta surfaced soon after the drug was released. Just one year after it was introduced, a post-marketing study warned that over half of those patients taking it suffered withdrawal side effects upon trying to stop. Many cases were considered severe and lasting close to a month.

In 2007, the FDA issued a warning letter to Eli Lilly claiming that the company had exaggerated the benefits of Cymbalta. In 2010, another warning from the regulatory agency charged that Lilly had been untruthful about the drug’s effectiveness, and that they hadn’t informed patients of risks such as liver damage and internal bleeding.

In 2009, the FDA released an advisory report that detailed the increasing trend of patients suffering severe withdrawal side effects when discontinuing use of Cymbalta. They concluded that many patients experienced injury or distress lasting weeks or even months when trying to stop.

In France, the renowned medical journal Prescrire warned that Cymbalta had no greater benefits than similar medications, but had a greater risk of side effects. They recommended against its use.

Side Effects

The Cymbalta medication guide from manufacturer Eli Lilly warns of a host of potential side effects that patients taking the drug may experience. These include:
  • Nausea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Liver damage
  • Headaches
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Brain Zaps
  • Vision problems
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Severe skin reactions - skin blisters, peeling rash, sores in the mouth, hives
  • Problems with urination
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Serotonin Syndrome - agitation, hallucinations, coma, coordination problems, muscle twitching, racing heartbeat, sweating or fever, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, muscle rigidity, dizziness, flushing, tremor

While many of these are common to antidepressant medications, users have reported experiencing worse side effects with Cymbalta than with similar drugs. In all, the FDA has received more than 60,000 reports of complications or adverse events among patients taking Cymbalta since it was introduced, ranging from Neurological disorders to gastrointestinal internal bleeding.

Unfortunately, some of the most severe Cymbalta side effects appear in those that try to stop using the drug.

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Liver Damage


Brain Zaps

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Severe Withdrawal

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Vision Problems

Medical Risks

Cymbalta Medical Risks

Cymbalta Withdrawal

All antidepressant drugs have the potential to cause withdrawal side effects when patients try to discontinue use. However, reports indicate these may be worse with Cymbalta. There is also an indication that Eli Lilly concealed the extent of these Cymbalta withdrawal problems from the public.

The Cymbalta medication guide advises those who are discontinuing use to employ a “gradual reduction in the dose rather than abrupt cessation.” The drug label also claims only around 1% or more of patients may experience withdrawal side effects.

However, a 2005 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders discovered up to 51% of patients taking Cymbalta experienced withdrawal symptoms. These were severe in approximately 15% of cases and lasted longer than two weeks in over half of users.

Other experts, including Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, have estimated that between 60% and 78% of patients taking antidepressant medications like Cymbalta experience withdrawal effects.

Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms can start in as little as 12 hours after discontinuation of use. Some of these side effects include:

  • Nightmares
  • Severe nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures
  • Headaches
  • Paralyzing electric shock sensations in the brain.

Adding to the frustration of those who are suffering from these withdrawals is the difficulty in tapering off the medication as directed by the manufacturer, due to limited availability of doses. Due to the failure of Eli Lilly to warn of these complications or provide a feasible means of discontinuation, lawyers have now started filing lawsuits for those who suffer the effects.

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Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome

For decades, doctors have warned of the difficulty patients face when trying to stop using antidepressant drugs. However, neither they nor the millions of users anticipated the brutal effects that could accompany Cymbalta withdrawal.

The complications from stopping Cymbalta use are severe enough that the condition has been given a diagnosis of its own - Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome.

After an accumulation of evidence suggesting withdrawals from Cymbalta were worse than normal, the FDA issued a research advisory in 2009 that examined the scope, severity, duration and management of these complications.

Among the agency’s observations were that physical and psychological injury and distress from Cymbalta could be extreme enough to negatively affect the job functions and social relationships of users and their families, and that these effects could last for weeks or months.

They also found that physicians and patients were not informed of all the potential side effects of withdrawal, or their severity. The FDA observed that Eli Lilly avoided the issue of Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome with physicians and the difficulty of a tapered method of stopping usage with patients. Instead, the company emphasized the withdrawal effects of other drugs to doctors.

With patients left uninformed and unsupported by the manufacturer, the FDA panel stated it was inevitable that a wave of Cymbalta fibromyalgia users would experience discontinuation syndrome.

Some of the complications associated with Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome include:

  • Anger or irritability
  • Electrical “brain zaps”
  • Nightmares
  • Sickness or vomiting
  • Tinnitus
  • Headaches
  • Seizures

Although the manufacturer advises a gradual reduction of dosage when discontinuing Cymbalta, patients have found this to be nearly impossible. First, the medication is only offered in 20 mg., 30 mg. and 60 mg. doses, with no liquid form.

What’s more, Eli Lilly expressly warns patients not to open Cymbalta capsules to mix the drug with food or liquids, or to partially chew or crush them. Therefore, they offer almost no way for patients to actually taper their dosage in order to avoid withdrawals.


For years, Eli Lilly has refused to compensate those patients who experience severe withdrawal effects from stopping use of Cymbalta. Now, lawyers have filed a growing number of lawsuits on behalf of those injured in federal court.

In August of 2014, lawyers representing patients around the country asked a federal judicial panel to consolidate claims to a special court in California for Cymbalta withdrawal injuries.

The claims allege that the maker of the drug misrepresented the severity of withdrawal side effects, and how long they would last, and that they concealed evidence suggesting otherwise from their own study.

Legal experts believe that, due to the widespread use of Cymbalta and the occurrence rate of discontinuation side effects, thousands of patients who experienced severe complications may eventually come forward to join the litigation.

For more information on the effects of Cymbalta, or to speak with a lawyer that specializes in Cymbalta withdrawal lawsuits, contact us today.

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Side Effects from Cymbalta?

Side effects from Cymbalta? Speak with a lawyer who specializes in the Cymbalta withdrawal litigation.

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