Duloxetine (Cymbalta)


Overview: Duloxetine, known by the brand name Cymbalta, is an antidepressant of the Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRI) class. Duloxetine is used to treat depression and anxiety. Duloxetine has helped many people recover from depression and anxiety. It doesn’t have many side effects compared to older antidepressants. Duloxetine is only available on prescription.




Key Facts: It will take around four to six weeks for Duloxetine to work, however minor improvements might be visible after around a week. There are a few side effects to Duloxetine, as mentioned below. Duloxetine should be used without interruption – you shouldn’t suddenly stop taking the medicine. The medication should help jump start your mood, and slowly make you feel like your old self again.


How do they work?: Unfortunately, it isn’t entirely known how antidepressants work. The most widely accepted belief is that antidepressants work by increasing levels of a group of chemicals in the brain named neurotransmitters. Some of these neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and noradrenaline, can help improve mood and emotion. How this process exactly works is unknown. It is recommended that Duloxetine is used in conjunction with therapy.


Dosage: You should take Duloxetine once a day. It doesn’t upset the stomach, and therefore can be taken with or without food. You should take the tablet at the same time each day. The usual dose of Duloxetine is 40mg a day in adults. Sometimes, a lower dose will be prescribed, especially at the beginning of treatment. The maximum dose per day is 120mg. It can take some time to find the correct dose. A typical treatment course of Duloxetine is six months, though a longer treatment course is common.


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Side Effects

With each box of Duloxetine, there will be an information leaflet enclosed. This will provide an exhaustive list of side effects. Side effects from Duloxetine should only last a few days, and are relatively mild. It is natural to experience some side effects as your body gets used to the medication.


Common side effects of Duloxetine include nausea, dry mouth, headache, dizziness, sexual dysfunction, sleepiness, constipation and increased sweating.


Serious side effects include suicidal thinking, seizures, chest pain, liver damage, psychosis. An overdose should be avoided, as it can cause the potentially fatal Serotonin Syndrome. You should contact your doctor if any of these serious side effects take place.




You should always read the information leaflet that comes with your medication as it will include important information there. You should tell your doctor if you are taking any other medication. It is important that you don’t use the herbal remedy St. Johns wort. You shouldn’t take any other antidepressant with Duloxetine unless directed by your doctor. The antipsychotic Thioridazine shouldn’t be used with Duloxetine. The opiods Fentanyl and Tramadol also shouldn’t be used. Several anticoagulants react negatively with Duloxetine. Buspirone, lithium, amphetamines and Tryptothan are just some of the other substances that shouldn’t be used with Duloxetine. Always ask your doctor if you are unsure.


Alcohol acts as a depressant, therefore it is recommended that anyone taking an antidepressant stays away from drinking alcohol. Combining Duloxetine with  recreational drugs is also not recommended.


Duloxetine is not recommended in pregnancy or the breastfeeding stage. The medicine has been linked to problems for an unborn baby or in early life.


Duloxetine is not normally prescribed to anyone under the age of 18. Instead, some form of psychotherapy is recommended. Younger people have been shown to be more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts when using antidepressants. In the case that an antidepressant needs to be prescribed, Fluoxetine will instead generally be prescribed.


Other SNRIs: