Cymbalta (Duloxetine)


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Active ingredient: Duloxetine

Dosages: 20mg, 30mg, 40mg, 60mg

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What is Cymbalta (Duloxetine)?

Cymbalta, also known as duloxetine, is a medication used to treat a variety of conditions including depression, anxiety, and certain kinds of pain. It belongs to a group of drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These drugs work by increasing levels of serotonin and norepinephrine, which are natural substances in the brain that help maintain mental balance and can also affect pain signals.

One of the specific types of pain Cymbalta helps manage is caused by diabetic neuropathy, which is nerve damage resulting from diabetes. People with diabetic neuropathy often experience painful sensations such as burning, tingling, or numbness, particularly in their feet and legs. By adjusting the levels of chemicals in the brain, it can help reduce this pain, making it easier for those affected to manage their daily activities.

In simple terms, this medicine can help improve mood, sleep, and energy levels, reduce feelings of anxiety, and relieve pain, including that caused by nerve damage in diabetes.

What is duloxetine Cymbalta used for?

Duloxetine, often known by its brand name Cymbalta, is a medication used to treat a variety of conditions. Here’s a simple breakdown of what it’s commonly used for:

  1. Depression and Anxiety: It helps improve mood, energy levels, and feelings of well-being, which can be disrupted by depression and anxiety disorders.
  2. Nerve Pain from Diabetes: This medication is used to manage pain associated with diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that can occur in people with diabetes. It helps alleviate painful sensations like burning, tingling, or numbness, especially in the feet and legs.
  3. Other Chronic Pain: Cymbalta is also prescribed for managing pain related to fibromyalgia (a condition that causes muscle pain and fatigue) and chronic musculoskeletal pain, such as pain in the back or joints.

Is Cymbalta a sleeping pill?

Cymbalta (duloxetine) is not a sleeping pill. It is a medication primarily used to treat depression, anxiety, and certain types of pain. While it is not designed to induce sleep, it can indirectly affect sleep patterns by improving symptoms of depression and anxiety that might be interfering with sleep. For example, if you’re feeling less anxious or depressed while taking the drug in, you might find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. However, it’s important to note that it is not intended to be used as a sleep aid to directly help people fall asleep.

How should Cymbalta be taken?

For Anxiety

  • Starting Dose: 30 mg once daily.
  • Maintenance Dose: After two weeks, increase to 60 mg once daily based on patient’s response and tolerability.
  • Maximum Dose: May increase up to 120 mg per day if needed and well tolerated.

For Depression

  • Starting Dose: 60 mg once daily.
  • Maintenance Dose: 60 mg once daily; adjust only if necessary based on response.
  • Maximum Dose: Some cases may require up to 120 mg per day, but increases should only be considered after several weeks of treatment at a lower dose.

For Neuropathic Pain Caused by Diabetes

  • Starting Dose: 30 mg once daily for one week.
  • Maintenance Dose: Increase to 60 mg once daily.
  • Maximum Dose: Depending on severity and response, the dose may be increased up to 120 mg daily, but this is less common.

Is Cymbalta taken at night or morning?

Cymbalta (duloxetine) can be taken either in the morning or at night, depending on what works best for you and what your doctor recommends. Some people find that taking it in the morning helps them manage their symptoms better throughout the day. Others may prefer to take it at night, especially if they notice it makes them feel drowsy.

However, it’s important to take the drug at the same time every day to keep a consistent level of the medication in your body.

How many hours does it take for Cymbalta to kick in?

Cymbalta (duloxetine) doesn’t work immediately and it can vary from person to person when they start to notice its effects. Typically, it might take several weeks to feel the full benefits of this drug, especially for depression and anxiety. Some people might start to feel a little better after a week or two, but significant improvements usually take longer.

For conditions like neuropathic pain caused by diabetes, some people might notice an improvement in pain levels sooner, sometimes within the first week of treatment. However, like with depression and anxiety, achieving the best results may still take a few weeks.

What is contraindicated with Cymbalta?

Certain things are contraindicated with Cymbalta (duloxetine), meaning you should avoid them because they can cause serious problems. Here are the main things you need to know:

  1. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): Do not take this drug if you are currently using MAOIs or have used them within the past 14 days. Combining these medications can cause dangerous interactions.
  2. Uncontrolled Glaucoma: If you have narrow-angle glaucoma that isn’t controlled, you should not take this drug in because it can increase pressure in your eyes.
  3. Severe Liver Disease: People with severe liver problems should avoid this medicine as it can further damage the liver.
  4. Severe Kidney Disease: If you have significant kidney problems, this medication may not be safe for you.
  5. Allergic Reactions: If you have ever had an allergic reaction to the described product or any of its ingredients, you should not take it.

What is the most common side effect of duloxetine?

  • Nausea – Feeling queasy, especially when you first start taking the medication.
  • Dry Mouth – Having a less moist mouth than usual.
  • Sleepiness – Feeling unusually tired or drowsy during the day.
  • Fatigue – General feeling of tiredness or lack of energy.
  • Dizziness – Feeling unsteady or lightheaded.
  • Appetite Changes – Experiencing increases or decreases in hunger.
  • Weight Changes – Gaining or losing weight without trying.
  • Constipation – Having infrequent or hard bowel movements.
  • Increased Sweating – Sweating more than usual, even without physical exertion.

How long do Cymbalta side effects last?

The side effects of Cymbalta (duloxetine) can vary from person to person. For many people, the common side effects like nausea, dry mouth, sleepiness, and dizziness are most noticeable when they first start taking the medication. These side effects often improve after a few days to a few weeks as your body gets used to the medication.

However, some side effects might last longer or occur later during treatment. If you experience side effects that are severe, bothersome, or don’t go away after a few weeks, it’s important to talk to your doctor. They can provide advice on how to manage these side effects, adjust your dosage, or suggest a different medication if necessary.

What should I avoid while taking Cymbalta?

  • Alcohol – Can increase the risk of liver damage and worsen side effects.
  • Driving or Operating Heavy Machinery – It can cause drowsiness and dizziness.
  • Certain Medications – Some drugs can interact with this medicine, so inform your doctor about all medications and supplements you are taking.
  • Suddenly Stopping the Medication – Can cause withdrawal symptoms. Always consult your doctor before stopping.

Where to get more info about Cymbalta?

Get more details about the drug here.

Disclaimer: This document does not cover all information about this medication and should not be used as a substitute for the medication guide, a consultation with a pharmacist, or advice from your healthcare provider. For the full medication guide, more detailed information, or any further questions, please contact your pharmacist or healthcare provider directly. It is essential to follow their advice and the official medication guide to ensure the medication is used safely and effectively. Always talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regimen and report any unexpected side effects or concerns immediately. Your pharmacist and healthcare provider are the best resources for information and support regarding your health and medications.

By Emily J. Thompson, MD
Medically Reviewed by Steven Sherman
Last Update: June 29, 2024