Cymbalta is an antidepressant medication used for so many other conditions, such as anxiety and chronic pain. Here is what you need to know.


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The information below is presented as a generalized and educational overview. The specific details of treatment protocols mentioned in this article may not reflect the protocols utilized by A Mission for Michael.

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As one of the most common mental illnesses in the U.S., more than forty million adults over eighteen has anxiety, and the number is growing.1 While no drug can cure anxiety, some antidepressants like Cymbalta can help people cope better.

Cymbalta (generic name duloxetine) is an antidepressant medication from the class of drugs referred to as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors or SNRIs. These medications work by increasing both serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake activity in the brain, which balances neurotransmitters and regulates mood.

Cymbalta is used to treat multiple conditions, including major depressive disorder (or MDD) in adults and general anxiety disorder in individuals seven and older.

In addition, it is also used to treat nerve pain in adults due to diabetes or chronic muscle or joint. It is also used to treat fibromyalgia in individuals thirteen and older.

Infographic - Factors affecting mental health

How Fast Does Cymbalta Work for Pain?

SNRIs, like most antidepressants, take some time to have a noticeable improvement. Do not expect to feel different the first day. Although you may feel some improvement within days or weeks of starting the medication, give it some time to see if it works for you. If you take this medication for pain, it typically takes two to four weeks to cause a noticeable improvement. However, it can take even longer for nerve pain.

For mood disorders, it can take up to twelve weeks to feel the full effects of Cymbalta.

How does Cymbalta Make You Feel?

Cymbalta, like most antidepressants, works by gradually lifting your mood and stabilizing it. Many notice that they can sleep better and have better relationships because they are less anxious.


What is Cymbalta Used For?

Cymbalta is used for several mental illnesses and pain conditions. Although it was initially used to treat depression and bipolar disorder, researchers have found that it can treat anxiety disorders as well. It is used to treat a number of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, certain phobias, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder. 2

In addition, Cymbalta and its generic counterpart, duloxetine, are used to treat other mental illnesses linked to anxiety as well, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and body dysmorphic disorder. Experts generally consider it to be a safe and effective way to treat panic disorders.

The initial dose for anxiety is typically 60mg daily. From there, it is either continued or increased up to a maximum dosage of 120 mg a day.

Cymbalta Dosage for Other Disorders

In addition to anxiety, Cymbalta is used for other conditions as well:


Cymbalta was first approved as a treatment for MDD. The recommended starting dosage is 40mg a day, given as 20mg twice a day, up to 60mg/day, which is given as 30mg twice a day. For some patients, though, that dosage is not enough. Patients can slowly increase their dosage once they have gotten used to the medication.

Diabetic Nerve Pain

The initial standard dose of diabetic nerve pain or neuropathic pain is 30mg to 60mg once a day. It is then increased to a standard maintenance dose of 60mg once a day.


Cymbalta 30mg once a day for the first week is considered the standard initial dose for fibromyalgia. The typical maintenance dose is 30mg to 60mg once a day.

Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

In addition to fibromyalgia, Cymbalta can help those with other musculoskeletal pain. It is recommended to take 60mg once daily.

Pediatric Dosage

Children are more sensitive to the effects of medication, so extra caution is critical. The standard dosage is 30mg once a day for two weeks before increasing to 60mg once a day.

Cymbalta Withdrawal Symptoms

Most antidepressants cause unpleasant symptoms when they are not present in the body. Stopping the medication suddenly can cause specific withdrawal symptoms. Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Tremors
  • Tinnitus
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, or vertigo
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Muscle cramps
  • Lucid dreams
  • Increased anxiety
  • Irritability

Withdrawal symptoms can last up to six weeks, but they are rarely dangerous to long-term health.


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SNRIs are growing in popularity to treat mood and anxiety disorders because it has fewer side effects than many older antidepressants. However, no medication is completely free of side effects, and no one drug affects everyone the same. Likewise, Cymbalta does come with certain side effects, and some are very serious.

Mild Side Effects

Some of the common mild side effects include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea or abdominal pain
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Increased nervousness
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Which side effects an individual gets and how severe they are can vary. Some people experience all of these side effects and some experience none. Typically, though, these side effects go away in time. Contact your doctor if the side effects do not go away or if they suddenly become worse.

Serious Side Effects

Some people are allergic to Cymbalta. Seek medical attention right away if you have signs of a reaction, such as hives, trouble breathing, swelling in the face or throat, fever, burning eyes, skin rash, or sore throat.

In addition, antidepressants have a “black box” warning from the FDA because of their ability to increase suicidal behaviors and thoughts in certain vulnerable individuals. Contact emergency help if you have sudden changes in your behavior or mood, such as deepening anxiety or depression, trouble sleeping, or feeling more impulsive, aggressive, talkative, or restless.

Call your medical professional right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest
  • Lightheadedness
  • Easily bruising or unusual bleeding
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Vision changes
  • Liver problems, such as right-sided upper stomach pain, dark urine, jaundice, or itching
  • Headaches
  • Confusion and memory problems
  • Feeling unsteady or weak

Serotonin Syndrome

Serotonin syndrome is a rare but severe risk with antidepressants like Cymbalta. These symptoms include:

  • Fast heart rate
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Twitching and loss of control
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea


Side Effects in Children

Cymbalta is not approved for children under the age of seven. Side effects for children over seven include:

  • Worsening depression
  • High or low blood pressure, causing headaches, dizziness, passing out, or eyesight changes.
  • Coughing up or throwing up blood
  • Bleeding in the gums, bruises without cause that get bigger, uncontrollable bleeding
  • Trouble passing urine
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Nose or throat irritation
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea

Sexual Side Effects

Like most antidepressants, Cymbalta can cause sexual side effects in women and men. Some side effects reported by men include:

  • Difficulty becoming aroused
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Difficulty reaching orgasm
  • Delayed ejaculation
  • Decrease in libido

Sexual side effects reported by women include:

  • Decreased libido
  • Trouble becoming aroused
  • Issues reaching orgasm
  • Decreased lubrication

Some of these side effects are more likely to happen with higher doses of the medication.

Long-term Side Effects

Although rare, Cymbalta does have side effects that could affect long-term health. Liver failure, for example, is a serious and uncommon side effect of the medication. Heavy alcohol use can increase the risk of liver failure.

However, research does not show any long-term effects when used for up to twelve months. 3

How Long Do Side Effects from Cymbalta Last?

Side effects and how long they last can vary. Some, such as reduced appetite and sleepiness, typically go away and ease within a few days or weeks. Other side effects, such as increased sweating and decreased libido, can continue as long as you take the medication.

Does Cymbalta Cause Weight Gain?

Weight gain is not a common side effect of this medication. In fact, weight loss is more typically a concern than weight gain. This factor is mostly because nausea and reduced appetite are common side effects of the drug.


As with any medication, it is critical to understand the precautions and warnings. Some things to keep in mind include:

What Should I Avoid While Taking Cymbalta?

Avoid taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), such as aspirin, Motrin, Aleve, and Advil, before consulting a doctor first. It may cause bleeding and bruising.

Cymbalta can make some people drowsy and affect coordination. Avoid any hazardous activity, such as driving or operating heavy machinery, until you know how the medication affects you.

Who Should not Take Cymbalta?

Cymbalta can be passed to a baby, so talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing. Do not take it seven days before or fourteen days after taking an MAO inhibitor.

What Foods Should I Avoid While Taking Cymbalta?

Alcohol can increase damage to your liver, especially if you are taking Drizalma.

What Happens If I Miss a Dose?

Take your dosage as soon as you remember if you miss a dose. If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the last dose and take the next one instead. Do not take two doses at once.

What Happens If I Overdose?

If you overdose, immediately seek medical attention or call 1-800-222-1222 to contact the Poison Helpline. Common overdose symptoms include dizziness, vomiting, drowsiness, fast heartbeat, seizures, and coma.

Cymbalta Pros and Cons

As with any medication, it is critical to weigh the pros and cons with your doctor before deciding to take it or stop. Cymbalta has been shown in research to help relieve symptoms of MDD, anxiety, and chronic pain. It can be helpful for those who need extra help with their condition.

Some find the side effects seriously impede their quality of life. In addition, it can be painful to stop taking the medication with withdrawal side effects. If you need medication but cannot tolerate the side effects, talk to your doctor instead of stopping completely. They can enable you to find a more effective dosage, medicine or help you to taper off of it.