Stopping Cymbalta: How To Wean Off Duloxetine Safely

Last Updated: June 10, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Stopping Cymbalta could be quite challenging, especially if the patients do not know how to do it correctly. For successful weaning off Cymbalta, it is important to stick to the tapering schedule and never try to stop duloxetine abruptly. That’s why the following guide would be useful for those who are currently stopping the drug or plan to do this.

Stopping Cymbalta: The Reasons Behind

Health and healthcare are things which are extremely personal. As such, reasons for stopping Cymbalta vary widely from person to person. While the duloxetine medication can be life-changing for many, it won’t be right for all, either in the short or long term.

Some of the reasons people may wish to stop Cymbalta include:

  • A lack of emotions, either positive or negative, while on the drug
  • Being unable to afford the medicine
  • Problematic side effects
  • The medication no longer working as well as it once did
  • Becoming pregnant
  • Worries about the social stigma surrounding depression
  • Feeling a lack of creativity
  • Worry about having been on the medication for too long
  • Belief that they are in a position to be healthy without the medication

Frequently, patients will choose to stop duloxetine for a combination of reasons. For example, Cymbalta does make patients gain weight in some cases, and this can happen in addition to the medication no longer being effective. When patients reach the point that they are considering stopping duloxetine, they should speak to their doctor about their desire. It is possible that other adjustments will make the medication work for them. And should stopping be the best course of action, they can help the patient quit the use of the medication safely.

Stopping Duloxetine Requires Medical Supervision

Many patients believe that they can get off Cymbalta on their own. However, stopping any antidepressant has the risk of complications arising, including antidepressant withdrawal syndrome. Additionally, if a user switches medications without assistance, there are risks of complications. It also refers to a situation when a patient stops using duloxetine in combination with other medications such as Cymbalta with Wellbutrin. The use of these two together poses health hazards.

how to stop cymbalta with a doctor

Doctors know how to stop Cymbalta safely. This includes the use of Cymbalta withdrawal treatment. With the right help, users can get off the drug without problems.

How To Stop Cymbalta

Stopping duloxetine can technically be done one of two ways: by going cold turkey or by tapering off the drug. However, only one method to stop taking Cymbalta is safe, and that is tapering. Going cold turkey will trigger withdrawal, which is something the user will want to avoid as it has the potential to be deadly.

Quitting Cymbalta Cold Turkey

Knowing that stopping Cymbalta cold turkey is dangerous, it might seem odd that people would consider this method. However, it is not always by choice. When people lose their insurance or cannot afford the next month of pills, there is a possibility they will not have another option.

If someone is in a position where they feel they have no choice but to go cold turkey, they should contact their doctor to see if there is the help they can offer them so they can stop use safely.

Tapering Off Cymbalta

Tapering off Cymbalta, or weaning off the drug, is the safe way to stop use. However, it should be done under medical supervision. There are correct and incorrect ways to taper, and following the right Cymbalta taper schedule for the patient is critical to success. For some patients, it takes a few weeks to taper off while others need months.

A typical schedule for how to taper off Cymbalta is as follows:

  • Starting Dose – 90 mg
  • First Taper – 60 mg
  • Second Taper – 30 mg
  • Third Taper – 20 mg
  • Fourth Taper – 10 mg

tapering off cymbalta

However, users should not simply follow this schedule. If they are starting at a higher dose or have been abusing the drug, a different schedule is needed. Additionally, there could be other complicating factors that necessitate altering the schedule. Always taper with the help of a doctor.

Are There FDA Guidelines On Stopping Cymbalta?

The FDA does not have any guidelines for how to come off Cymbalta safely. This is unfortunate, as it means that there is not a lot of research into how to wean of duloxetine, and most doctors are working without the correct guidance. All the FDA suggests is that stopping be gradual and monitored by a doctor. It does not cover the issues of what happens if one takes too much Cymbalta and then start weaning off the drug or specific schedules for doing this.

Getting Help With Stopping Cymbalta

Whether someone wants to stop Cymbalta because they are abusing it or has another reason for quitting, it must be done carefully. Doctor supervision is critical, and for some, it will need to be in a drug rehabilitation facility. There, experts can help users safely stop the drug and find coping mechanisms for staying clean and healthy. The treatment programs are often individual to ensure a long-lasting recovery.

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Published on: May 30th, 2019

Updated on: June 10th, 2020

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


Leave a comment

  • Susan Garozzo
    I have been on duloxetine hc dr 30 mg capsules for 1 week & if don’t see improvement in my neuropathy pain at end of additional week will go off the med, Can you advise taper off schedule for me? I see above schedule showing from 30 mg to 20 mg to 10 mg but how do you drop mg taking a capsule? And how long is each taper period? Thanks,
    • Adam
      Susan, you should give it at least a month before you decide it’s not working. I know a few people who take it for neuropathy and it works very well, however, it took about a month before they noticed results.
  • Cheryl woerner
    I’ve recently started a wean off of cymbalta; right now im doing every other day then I’ll be going to every third day., my problem is that im getting nauseated now and wonder if it will get worse when I go to every third day. Im taking 20Mgs.
    • Rebecca Watson
      How are you doing now? I started to wean off same sort of time as you and took last pill 4 days ago. Surprised I’m still feeling dizzy on and off, feel pretty faint too. Wondering how long this will go on for as not sure how I can work like this…
    • Izabela
      Hello there! I am getting off cymbalta from 30 mg dose i was originally prescribed by my provider. Currently on first month of 20mg/ day. I feel ok’ish if doing every other day, 3 days break however results with horrible withdraw symptoms. Once i feel ok with taking every other day I plan on doing every 3rd day as well. How s your weaning off?
    • Lynn Morris
      the half life is too short to be able to go every 2nd and 3rd day. You need to decrease the dose and take it everyday.
      • Peggy Heidleburg
        The half life is two and a half days so you can use it every other day.
        • Michael
          You are incorrect. According to and the company’s own data both agree the half life of Cymbalta is 12 hours (range 8-17 hours. Thus the serious withdrawal symptoms that can lead to death.
  • Daniel
    I agree with Adam, I am about to start taking cymbalta for wide spread neuropathy, I have been advised that it will take 4 to 5 weeks before it becomes effective. Taking it for such a short period of time caries minimal risk for dependence in most people. Give it time, it’s better than living with the pain in my opinion.
    • Reid
      It is not. If there is any chance of disruption in your supply (mine went mysteriously from auto-refill to manual refill), you will find yourself in worse trouble. It’s like walking around with a sever concussion. Snappy, no focus … almost like tunnel vision. I hated life for a few days before I was able to get a refill. Now I nearly panic any time I get low. I wanted to wean off several months ago but my PCP convinced me to wait until after the holidays. I take it as supplemental relief to other treatments for nerve damage/neuropathy.
  • Lisa Wyatt
    I’ve just started weaning myself off of Cymbalta, I’ve got the side effects the shakiness and those head zooms are the worst but this is something I really want to do. It’s just not working anymore. My moods are flat and I’m just gloomy. I have an appointment with my doctor on Monday. I’ll talk to him and see what he can do to help me with these withdrawals. I’ve been on 60 mg for about 12 years. I’m determined to do this, I think there’s another med that will help me much better
    • Alessia
      Hey Lisa, I really suggest you the FB group “Cymbalta hurts worse” it helps a lot with tipps and everything. I found a good way to taper off safely through it. All the best and take care, Alessia
      • Howie
        Keep up The good work. I just got off been 10 days. I was dizzy and nauseous for 4 days but am starting to feel better. So glad to get off a drug (they gave me for nerve pain). I know the side effects of getting off could be bad, but just do it.
      • Afshan
        How long did it take you to come off this altogether? How long is one supposed to take the lower dose before reducing further?
  • Dawn
    I am on 120mg I wanting to stop taking this drug I’ve been at this dosage for at least 3yrs how hard will it be to stop taking ? It’s for my fibromyalgia not depression I feel the med has given me depression as weight gain. I’d like to stop this med
    • Michael Adrian Jarvis
      hi dawn me 8 years for depression after bad car accident i went on holiday 3 years ago and forgot to take them an absolute nightmare all the best ill try tapering
    • Connie
      Go slowly. I am at day 6 after 2 weeks of 30 mg then 2 weeks 30 mg every other day and it’s been a nightmare. Right now my back feels like it is going to break in half right across the middle. I’m having chills and tensing up, which isn’t helping my back. My ears have been buzzing loudly and I have brain zaps. I cry so easily. I’m hot then freezing. I anger and snap, very irritable. I pray to my Father this will end soon.
      I am also on 120mg 3 yrs for my fibromyalgia. Just started 2 days ago weaning off. Dr has me doing 7 days @ o0mg, 7 days @ 60 mg 7 days @ 30mg. I’m scared cuz I hate being nauseated and pray it doesn’t make me throw up cuz it’s a fear of mine.
    • Carole
      Hi, Dawn just found this site and your comment in Jan 2021. Wondering if you managed to stop taking the Cymbalta/ Duloxetine for your Fibromyalgia. My Gps Pharmaceutical Technician prescribed them instead of Citalopram for my Fibro in Oct 2020. For me it has been horrendous. I am going to contact and say I am wanting to wean off them. . I wish you well and hope you are finding relief for your Fibro.
  • Donald
    I’ve been taking cymbalta for 2 1/2 months and want to get off of it. should I wean off of it or stop cold turkey.
  • Renee Lees
    I tapered off Cymbalta and 18 months later I’m still getting occasional brain zaps and the tinnitus never went away. However, it was totally worth it. I’m feeling better overall without it. It was great while it lasted, but it stopped being the right drug for me. I am quite irritated that I wasn’t given any warning about antidepressant withdrawal syndrome. That’s negligent and disrespectful. We should be told about this.
  • Jaime McColgan
    I’ve been taking Cymbalta for several years. I recently made a cross country move and running out. I do not have insurance and applied for Medicaid with no response. My psychiatrist requires a visit every 3 months so I can’t ask her to call in a prescription down here. Reading about withdrawals is scaring me. I already have a temper and worried about how it will affect me. Not good when I work the service desk. I’ve already started apologizing to my family for anything that I might do or say during my withdrawals. I’m supposed to be up in 4 hours for work but I’m too busy thinking about this.
    • Kelly
      Ask your primary care doctor to write a prescription to help you withdraw. Cymbalta isn’t a drug that has to be prescribed by a psychiatrist. Sorry reply so late!
  • Annette
    I have been taking cymbalta for years it helps my fibromyalgia but I have had increased excessive sweating . I need to taper off but take capsules. How can I safely stop this to see if it helps my sweating issue.
    • Natalie
      You just have to carefully open up the capsule and pour some of the beads out. It isn’t an exact science, but it still accomplishes the same goal.
      • dallas
        this exactly what i resorted to. i have been tapering for an excessively long time over several months from only 60mg. I couldn’t handle the withdrawal symptoms from 30mg every other day, so i halved the dose for a couple weeks and now i use about ⅓ of a 30 mg capsule. it does the trick. i feel feelings now, sex life is better and i feel peaceful and excited about every day.
  • Seymour Butz
    I have been on Duloxetine for about 2 years now. My Dr. gave it to me for depression and bad lower back problems- (they are probably connected) I am currently on 60mg and I am going to take half for 1-2 weeks… maybe more…. When I get my weaning down to 15mg, 7.5mg, 3mg; is it safe for me to take the capsule apart and measure out my doses? Will the medicine be equal? Assuming that my measuring is correct. Basically, is all powder inside the capsule medicine, or is there a filler? Thank you fellow people who were not informed on the withdrawls from this terrible medication!
    • Natalie
      This is a very late response, but it may at least help someone else. In my personal experience, the capsules have been filled with little beads that are pretty uniform in size, so pouring out a specific volume/quantity of beads should yield a pretty reliable estimate of how many milligrams you are left with. However, this may vary from one manufacturer to the next. For example, I have tapered off of Effexor XR in the past and the beads inside the capsule were all drastically different sizes. Either way, it’s obviously not an exact science when you open your own capsules at home, but chances are, it won’t fluctuate enough to significantly hinder your tapering process. With that said, I’m not a doctor.. and although my doctors have never been opposed to me using this method, if your doctor advises against it, listen to your doctor!
    • Deb
      Pls help me i have stopped duloxitine about 5 or 6 days ago was only on 20 mg for about 5 months. Im dizzy on and off bad tonight. Again what do I do?? Thx I’m 66
  • Judy
    Tapered of the drug by going every other day for 3 weeks. Then I realized taking the Cymbalta made me sick. Quit taking it. Feel better, still have a dizzy spell here and there. A horrible medication. I will never take a drug you can’t wean off ever again. Check all medications to see if you can wean off them before you take them. I have a Vascular Vein Disease in my legs. So I was on a narcotic, which helped I didn’t have any brain zaps ect. As far as my Narcotic I only take when needed and can stop with no side effects. Cymbalta, Tramadol, Nuerotin, Gabapentin, and Lyrica are a few you can’t just stop using or you could end up in a re-hab facility. I don’t like to take meds. 90% of what I take are vitiamns. I pray and wish everyone who is trying to get off this poison the best of luck and keep the faith. You can do it. This is my 2nd time and I am off Cymbalta for good. Just keep busy and drink lots of water, main thing is not to think about it. Good Luck to you all.
  • Michelle Dickson
    I am living a hell right now. 10 years of cymbalta at 90 mg with a student doctor upping me to 120mg as was having UTI and kidney stones in the spring with blood in results but insisted I needed it upped and my issues wee anxiety. I kept feelings worse for last 8 months but did not relate it to this until new doctor decided to switch me to wellbutrin. He tapered me from 120mg to 90mg to 60mg to 30mg then added wellbutrin and then 0mg a week at a time. Last pill was 3 days before Christmas!!I am living a hell I can’t explain. Please any input would be appreciated
    • Dallas
      may i ask which vitamins you take?
  • Michele A Wright
    I was on Cymbalta 60 mg for probably six months for depression…switched from Prozac. I had an issue with running out, so I missed a couple of days and started feeling funny, so I looked it up. I couldn’t believe what it causes! I think I am on the 4th or 5th day now and am feeling really bad… vertigo, head is being zapped, nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, bad dreams, emotional mess… Want to stay off, but I feel so bad. Thought about going back on to feel better, but don’t know if I can make it to the pharmacy. Not sure what do.
  • Lois Nicoletti
    I’ve been on 20mg duloxitine before bedtime for a year, for anxiety. I also suffer from Fibromyalgia & take 25 mg at bedtime for approx 10 years. The anitr. helps me from flip flopping in bed at night from the fibro. Shortly after starting taking the duloxitine I cut the pill in half because I was feeling draggy in the AM. It worked for a while. The draggy feeling has been happening again for the last 6 months. I want to come off both, starting with the duloxitine. I am planning to start taking one every other night for a couple of weeks, then down to every 3rd night. Once off I will do the same with the amitriptyline. My plan is to switch over to CBD. I have friends & acquaintances who have successfully gotten of “drugs”. Anyone here go down that path? Annie
    • Fran
      They’re capsules how did you cut them in half?
      • Dallas
        Hi Fran, please see other comments on here but the general idea is to open the capsule and guesstimate half the amount. Hope that helps!
  • Shan Grande
    Hi I have been taking Cymbalta 20mg for about a year now for neuropathy it does not help with my neuropathy and I have gained approximately 15 lbs since I started taking this med. I want to wean off of this med. so can I start taking it every other day for 2 weeks than skip two days for 2 weeks and so on?? Or do I need to go down from 20mg to 10mg first? Thank you for your help.
    • Dallas
      I am posting on here a lot tonight because I want to share what i have learned in the hopes that others can eliminate or reduce the suffering of withdrawal from this drug! My Dr. had me reduce by 30mg for two weeks and I ended up doing that for 3 or 4 weeks instead. I have tapered off antidepressants and unless you are on a tight schedule there is no reason to rush through it; the slower you go the easier it will be, at least for me. Then I was supposed to do the every other day thing you mentioned, at 30mg. The ‘off’ days were unbearable. I had to have at least some (like a junkie) every day to function. Please see other comments about opening up your capsule and reducing by an estimate. I hope this helps. Obviously I’m just sharing my opinion, do what works for you.
  • Tim
    I was on Cymbalta 90mg for 8 years. I recently weened my way off . Last quarter pill was taken Feb 03 2020 . Almost a month later I am still experiencing Brain zaps and massive mood swings, angry/sad. I am praying this will eventually get much much better.
    • Lynn
      You might have weaned too fast. There is a great support group on FB called “Cymbalta Hurts Worse” that gives guidelines for slow tapering and lots of support for the symptoms experienced during discontinuation.
  • Michell
    Why hasn’t cymbalta been labeled a control? Clearly, trying to come off this medication is almost impossible for most! And so difficult that it often Requires an addiction center to help??
  • Judi
    thank you, my daughter is 15 and wants to stop. This has been very helpful. No one told us how hard it would be.
  • Kathryn Rottier
    Can you help me taper off of Cymbalta from 60 mgs. I have an INOVA Psychiatrist from INOVA Fairfax Hospital.
  • Teri
    If I would of known what Cymbalta would of all done to me I would of never took it. I gained a lot of weight since on it. Been on it now for about 10 years at 60 mg and trying to wean off it. It’s a living nightmare. It’s causing me to have neurodermatitis and break out with hives each time dosage is lowered. Each breakout is worse. The headaches are unbearable. I’m not a very pleasant person to be around and other drugs are not working because of the Cymbalta. Anyone offered to take Cymbalta please look for another alternative because it’s not worth the nightmare. You may not have the outcome I’m going through right now but I never dreamed I would either because I did great on medication until the dosage changes to lower and wean off with other drugs.
  • Patricia Davison
    I detest this drug. Began 14 days, after being prescribed it by a psychiatrist, (following death of my spouse and bad car wreck…I began at 30 mgs a day. I have requested to stop it tomorrow. I feel 100% terrible..dizzy, disorientated, can’t get my balance and phobias and anxiety 100%+++ worse. What a vile drug!!! Haven’t ben outside the house; cant socialise, cant sleep, shower safely or live!!! NEVER AGAIN!
    • Troy
      I’m so sorry! I hope you are doing better now!
  • JC
    I took Cymbalta for 8 months I couldn’t take the side effects and decided to come off of it. I have weened my self off 5 mgs at a time. my last week being 5 mgs was a week ago. I have had dizziness, severe nausea and regurgitation for the past week and a half and now into this week. I can’t make it stop. I also have GERD which is causing an issue as well with the burning in my throat. nothing so far has helped with these issues. I’ve lost 10 lbs within this time frame. I can’t keep anything down not even water. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated
  • Too much
    I have been weaning off cymbalta for 2 1/2 months now from 40 mg to 20 mg every 4 th day I have the severe ringing in my head the dizziness the vision disturbance (blurred vision and migraine type tunnel vision) and now have irritability and anger ugh How long will this last?
    • Dan
      I can’t believe so many of you are skipping days then taking a dose, this will make matters much worse. Because this drug is a capsule with medicated beads inside you MUST OPEN the capsule and take some out. EXAMPLE : Regardless of the dose you are on, on day 1 week 1, open 14 of the capsules SEPERATELY and count the beads inside. Most manufacturers should have a standard very close in each pill in that the count should be the same item only off by 1 bead. Then, take 10% of the beads out and throw away, put the rest back in the gel cap, take the pill. Do this for 2 weeks . Don’t rush!!! After the 2 weeks, drop another ten percent, 2 weeks, another 10% until you get to the end where you’ve done 2 weeks or more on the very lowest possible dosage. It will never be totally easy, but skipping days is not good on this drug AT ALL. DON’T DO IT. Confirm with your doctor and off you are confused, have him/her show you. Good luck.
  • Alison
    i’ve been on cymbalta 60mg for 6 years it’s significantly effected my memory, my labido and many other things but i haven’t cared until now i feel i no longer need it. can you please suggest a tapering schedule?
    • Troy
      Hi Alison. Please work with your primary care physician. Your pharmacy can compound the drug at the tapering schedule of your choice. Having your pharmacy compound the drug is expensive but totally worth it. A 60 to 30 mg drop is to rapid and you need to take the drug daily.
  • Anna
    Hi there! Been on Cymbalta 20mg daily for 4 months. It was added for depression along with my 150 mg Zoloft and Daily Xanax. The Cymbalta has been very unhelpful and if anything is destroying my stomach. How do I taper off 20mg?