The Side Effects of Cymbalta: When the Cure Hurts
Published May 02, 2008 by:
Depression hurts," said the popular television ads for Cymbalta. It sure does, I thought, as I watched the commercial. By this time, I was an anti-depressant meds aficionado. Because of a genetic predisposition toward
depression and anxiety, I have taken Zoloft, Lexapro, Paxil, and Effexor at various times in my life. But there was always something not quite right with them. I felt like a pharmacological Goldilocks:
This Zoloft makes me feel like a zombie.
This Paxil makes me too jumpy.
Nothing is just right.
Then I started taking Cymbalta, and I don't know what hurt worse-the depression or the side effects of this medication.
The official website for Cymbalta says that it's most common side effects are nausea, dry mouth, drowsiness, lack of appetite, constipation, increased sweating, and fatigue. These symptoms, it says, subsides with continued use.
It was right.
Of that list, I suffered occasional nausea, cottony dry mouth, drowsiness, and increased sweating. But it was the side effects that weren't listed that caused me alarm. I experienced a slight weight gain and an inability to lose weight. I lost my sex drive. I walked around in a minor depression all the time (probably because I'd lost my sex drive.) Unfortunately, these symptoms did not go away with continued use.
To be fair, Cymbalta is not alone in causing these symptoms. Though pharmaceutical companies do not broadcast this, most anti-depressants affect your weight to some extent, dampen your sex drive, and deaden your emotions. But Cymbalta added a few more side effects to the mix.
I had heart palpitations and my breathing felt labored. Though I cannot be sure that Cymbalta caused these particular symptoms, I am quite sure that it caused this last one:
When I decided to wean myself off of Cymbalta (actually, I quit cold) I experienced disturbing withdrawal symptoms. For weeks, energy surges shot down my arms and legs when I walked, and the ground felt like it was
moving underneath my feet. This is a hard feeling to explain but an impossible one to forget–and and terrifying. So don't be stupid like me. Always wean yourself off of Cymbalta, and other anti-depressants, slowly.
If you still want to try Cymbalta, here are my suggestions for handling some of its side effects:
1. nausea — it does go away in a few weeks. Nibble on soda crackers and pretend you're pregnant.
2. drowsiness – take your dosage right before bedtime and you don't have to worry about it.
3. dry mouth – drink lots of water and/or chew gum or suck on hard candy.
4. lack of appetite – I should be so lucky.
5. increased sweating – wear lots of deodorant.
6. constipation – laxatives work wonders.
7. loss of libido – I hear they're working on a viagra for women.