Dumping Duloxetine : Withdrawals Are A B*tch

Wow, long time no updates…

I’ve been taking duloxetine for almost 2 years? (yeesh) now for my RA pain and I am ready to be done with it. It’s not that I don’t like it anymore, or that it’s not doing it’s job, or that the side effects are crazy, but there are just a few things that have led me to decide I need to break up with this daily pill. It’s just not the right one for me is all.

When I first started taking duloxetine, it was alright. Sure there was some minor nausea and queasiness for the first few days. And my pain level did go down for a bit! I was feeling really great, had plenty of energy and my attitude was good. But after 6 months or so, the pain started to come back, not as bad, but I was still feeling it. Unfortunately, I’ve also had to go through the discomfort of withdrawals, and that is what made me decide to officially come off duloxetine. Simply because the risks of the pain from withdrawal is greater than the daily pain of RA. Plus, I know there are other options out there that would work for my body and lifestyle.

Let me open by saying, if you are on this, or any other SSNRI (selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor), and you are happy with it, please keep taking it. This is just my personal choice based on my lifestyle, goals and body reactions. Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any medicine.

Duloxetine, if you are unfamiliar, is an anti-depressant that also is used to treat chronic nerve and bone pain (it is the generic form of Cymbalta). I have not been diagnosed with any type of depression, but I will admit that it helped my mood. I noticed that things that may have stressed me out or cause my anxiety to skyrocket didn’t have that same effect when I’m taking it. So why give it up? Yeah, there are absolutely a few things other than the RA pain coming back that could be considered a drawback or a negative for coming off of this. Losing the boost that duloxetine gives me is a little scary, truly. I’m banking on my support system and my years of therapy and coping mechanisms to keep me in this good place mentally. Now that I know what things can feel like, I feel like I will have an easier time maintaining good days. Understanding how my body has reacted helps me know what is possible.

Lets dive into withdrawals…cause that is the gritty bit that we all care about right? Currently, my new doctor has me dropped down to 20 mg, down from my original dose of 60 mg a day. Which is great, but I still get symptoms after 2 days. If I skip 2 doses, by the 3rd day I’m starting to slide into withdrawals…

My first run-in with withdrawals was when I changed my last name (finally got around to changing it after being married for a few years…) and switched pharmacies, which meant I confused the fuck out of my insurance and doctors. I was out of meds for 2 weeks…I was laid up, couldn’t drive, couldn’t work, it was wicked.

For me, it starts off like a migraine. I feel a little foggy headed and mentally slow. Then the head pain creeps in, it’s not too bad at first, I can handle it. I can manage. I can work. Then the nausea, and then fatigue. I become motion and light sensitive. By day 5 or 6, it is full vertigo. I can’t walk with my head up, I can’t drive, I’m left to lay on my bed with an eye mask and only podcasts to entertain me. I can’t sit up. I create a dim world around me because Alex keeps all the curtains closed and the lights off. He helps me up and down stairs. It hurts to form words to talk, if I could even think of the words in the first place. I can’t read because it hurts to use my eyes. I am stuck in my own head, which is a very unproductive echo chamber on a bad day. I seriously feel for addicts, because chemical dependency is no joke. It brings me to tears just thinking of how fucking awful I felt.

I’m down to 20 mg a day, but still start to get symptoms after 2 days. It’s going to be a long road, but I’m just happy to be on the road to trying a new treatment for my RA. It’s a first world problem, I know, but just know that if you’ve felt like I have, or have gone through this, I feel ya.