The anti-depressant Cymbalta is being prescribed in ever increasing numbers, by a wide spectrum of physicians who are ignorant of this powerful drugs side effects. Cymbalta is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and marketed for the treatment of major depression, anxiety, and some forms of chronic pain, due to nerve damage, fybromyalgia, etc. In the United States a patient can go to a primary care physician complaining of depression, and walk out with a prescription for an anti-depressant. Patients suffering from certain types of chronic pain can also be prescribed an anti-depressant, including Cymbalta, by a primary care, or a pain management doctor. Anti-depressants can also be prescribed as the result of a consult, from a primary care physician, to a psychiatrist, based on the psychiatrists findings. As the FDA approves more of these type drugs, for the treatment of major depression, anxiety, and chronic pain, new guidelines may need to be formulated, for prescribing, monitoring, and patient education.
Cymbalta has helped many people suffering from major depression, anxiety, and others suffering from certain types of chronic pain caused by nerve damage, as well as people suffering from the pain of fybromyalgia. It is very important the diagnoses of depression is one that is certain. If Cymbalta is given to someone suffering from level 2 bi-polar disorder Cymbalta can make their symptoms much worse, hence the need for a proper diagnoses. Does a primary care doctor have the time, training, and resources to differentiate between depression, major depression, and the intricacies of bi-polar disorder, including level 2 bi-polar disorder? As the drugs marketed to treat depression become more, and more powerful, as Cymbalta is, it may be dangerous for a primary care doctor to prescribe it to anyone, including people suffering the types of chronic pain Cymbalta has been approved to treat. A primary care doctor is working outside his scope of medicine when it comes to matters of the mind, and should refer depressed patients to a psychiatrist. Any patient failing to respond to normal protocols for pain management, suffering from fybromyalgia, or nerve pain unresponsive to other treatments should not be given Cymbalta without a consult with a pain management specialist. It is important for physicians to stay within their scope of medicine. Cymbalta is not a panacea, and despite the advertisements hailing it as a non narcotic alternative, it can be a very dangerous drug.
Anyone seeing an advertisement for Cymbalta will be led to believe that it is a great drug for treating depression, as well as a wonderful, non-narcotic treatment for chronic pain. Anyone talking to a person who has had to stop taking Cymbalta will hear the dirty little secret the manufacturer does not want you to know. The withdrawals from Cymbalta are as bad as, or worse than withdrawals from narcotics. To name a few, the withdrawal symptoms from Cymbalta are brain “zaps” (feeling of electrical shocks in the brain), crying, anger, shaking, diarrhea, feelings of doom, and increasing anxiety. Here is part of one story I pulled randomly from the internet:
“Hi- I too am taking Cymbalta- 60 mg. a day for about 2 years( and would love to get off of it-) as I suffer from Fibromyalgia and severe depression. I HAD terrible daily pain before Cybalta, and found that the Cymbalta has helped me incredibly with the pain- but not NEAR enough for my depression and anxiety. I find that if I even miss my dose by 4 hours- I start getting the “Brain ZAPS” . It’s very scary to me, I don’t want to be on this drug- I am actually having suicidal thoughts (alot of teenager stress going on here), and I didn’t ever get THAT bad with my depression before Cymbalta.”
The really bad part about all of this is the physicians prescribing this powerful drug are often unaware the problems patients have coming off of it. Any drug that causes brain “zaps” does not sound like it would be good for anything. This is why it is very important for doctors to stay within their scope of medicine, and for patients to insist on a referral. Physicians have gotten used to prescribing ant–depressants when a patient comes in with the blues. With the newer class of anti-depressants, such as Cymbalta, doctors need to be extra careful, and get a consult before they run the risk of causing someone brain “zaps”.
I have someone close to me who went two days without Cymbalta, due to an insurance mix up. I honestly thought we were going to have to commit her. That is why I am writing about this powerful drug. Do not let your doctor start you on it unless you really need it, and if that is the case make sure a psychiatrist is the one doing the prescribing.