Living with RA: Duloxetine 1 Month Follow Up

1 Month On Duloxetine

Heads up, this is a follow up to my first post; Treating RA: Starting Duloxetine. So I would start there for a full background. Or just dive right in on this one, no judging. 

I've been on Duloxetine for just over a month, and I have to say, I like it.

One thing that I did when I started Duloxetine is look up reviews and other peoples experiences. Since I try and manage a lot of my health issues and concerns with diet & self care, I wanted to make sure I knew all that I could before taking any drug that I was unfamiliar with. I'm not going to sugar coat it, there are a lot of people who have had some terrible experiences with this drug. But so far, I've been handling things pretty well. 

Yes, I've had some side effects, but nothing that I can't handle and nothing that is crazy scary (like suicidal thoughts). All in all, I feel pretty good. I hurt less, I hurt less often, my mood is good, my energy is fine. I'm feeling like I can do a lot more without pushing myself too far and hurting myself. Yes, I have bad days, but they are getting fewer and I'm actually noticing that I have less pain, and more days where I'm (almost) pain free. *Note: I wrote that last sentence when I was having a great streak of "good" days. Now I've had 2 very distracting and pain filled days in a row thanks to the massive weather shift that have happened recently -heavy rain and clouds to blue skies and sunshine. So...yeah. Better...but not 'great'. Duloxetine is helpful, but it is not a cure.

So if you are like me and are trying to decide if you really do want to take this medicine or ask your doctor for something else, here is my experience. Read on, and make the choice that is best for your body. 


Side effects...

My main side effects were nausea, trouble sleeping at night, and when I forgot to take a few doses...night sweats, anxiety and flu like body aches. Not to mention the full brunt of the chronic pain that would come back when I miss a dose. 

The nausea went away pretty quickly after the first 3 weeks. Once I got used to full dose (since they have to ramp you up), I have been feeling just fine. I do sometimes need to remind myself to eat breakfast sooner rather than later, since if I go too long with just my morning tea and no food in my stomach I will get a little queasy. But usually some toast, or some fruit, in the morning does the trick. 

And as for the sleeping at night, I've always had issues with that, but it is a little different with this medicine. My trouble with Duloxetine was that I would be able to fall asleep fine, but then would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep. Causing me to get anxious, worrying if I would EVER get back to sleep, if I was going to get enough sleep and end up being exhausted throughout the next day. I spoke with my doctor about that and he recommended that I try taking my dose in the morning since I've been without nausea for a while. That worked like a charm! Since Duloxetine can have a stimulating effect on the body, it works best for me to take it in the morning. Some people get sleepy, but it perks me up. 

Now for the "withdrawal" symptoms: Yes, you can get withdrawal symptoms from Duloxetine...so that is scary and something I thought about when starting this medication. Some stories I read had people who had to try and wean themselves off the drug because their doctor didn't have a real plan or procedure. I'm not looking forward to that, but hopefully they have a better system set up by then (finger crossed). Duloxetine is a lot like birth control, you have to take it each day because it will work itself out of your system very quickly. So when I missed a dosed when I was home sick, that was fine, I took it the next day and I had little to no issues. But when I missed 2 doses in a row one weekend (because I'm just not used to taking it daily yet) WHOA, it was weird.  I felt like I had the flu. I was achy, which may have been more about the pain coming back than a side effect, but I was also having hot flashes and night sweats like I was feverish (even though my temp was normal). And there was anxiety. Laying in bed in the morning feeling stressed AF, but not being able to find the source of it. Random general anxiety....just what I need first thing in the morning *cue epic eye roll*. Since I am able to logic out the cause and calm myself down, I can handle that. But if you have troubles with addressing and letting go of anxiety, talk to your doctor. 


Overall...

So far, my issues with the side effects have been minimal. Yes there have been some unpleasant moments, but there have been millions upon millions of painful moments before them, I can handle some nausea and some sweaty nights. I'm just thankful to have something that works, even if it's not perfect, it is something. I'm going into this with as much information as I can and with my eyes wide open to all the possible issues and complications. To me, the pros outweigh the cons for the time being. Keep in mind that everyone is different, every body is different and will respond differently to things. Don't take anyone's word as gospel, do your research, ask questions, be brave and stand up for your own health and well being. For me, Duloxetine is working. 


It took me a few times to write this post, because I kept telling myself that no one would care. It wouldn't help anyone, no one would need this information. But then again, I was out there LOOKING for this information just a month ago, hoping to find something. Something that would put my mind at ease and give the good, the bad, and the ugly information the same weight and acknowledgement. I know I get tongue tied in the doctors office sometimes. I know I should ask questions, but I don't, or I don't ask the awkward ones because I'm not sure how to word it, or I'm afraid of being belittled or told I'm silly or stupid for worrying.  So if you're like me, and you love learning about personal experiences to help better inform your personal choices, I hope this helps!