Cymbalta Side Effects
Cymbalta is a brand name for a medication called duloxetine. It’s an antidepressant that’s typically prescribed to treat major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia, long-term bone or muscle pain, and pain from diabetic nerve damage.
Like all medications, there are possible side effects you might experience from taking Cymbalta, and at YourDrugs.com, we work hard to bring you as much information about medications as possible so you can make an informed decision on your treatment options.
How Does Cymbalta Work?
Cymbalta falls into a class of medications called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, which are commonly known as SNRIs. They work by blocking the the reuptake of the brain chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin.
Both serotonin and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters that help regulate your mood and block any pain signals traveling through your brain, which is why Cymbalta medication is also used to treat specific types of long-term pain in addition to depression and anxiety.
Additionally, if you’re instead in Cymbalta for PTSD treatment, there is evidence that the way it alters your brain chemistry is beneficial to those with PTSD. The medication can reduce nightmares and help improve the quality of sleep you get.
How Long Does It Take For Cymbalta to Work?
For your Cymbalta treatment to work properly, you have to take daily doses of the medication for an extended period of time. You won’t notice any benefits of the medication for several weeks.
For example, when taking Cymbalta to treat depression on a daily basis for between one and two weeks, you may notice your sleep patterns, appetite, and energy levels regulate. But it may take between six and eight weeks for your overall mood to change.
At this time, you will probably also notice that you’re more interested in pursuing different activities again.
What Are Some Common Cymbalta Side Effects?
Cymbalta, like other medications, does have side effects. But like with other medications, not all people experience all of the possible side effects.
In fact, you may not experience any at all. However, before you start your Cymbalta treatment, you need to know what the possible effects are so if you do experience any of them you know when to contact your doctor.
Also, it’s important to note that Cymbalta side effects can happen regardless of the dosage amount. For example, Cymbalta 20mg side effects are the same as 60mg Cymbalta side effects but they may vary in intensity with different dosages.
You should discuss the side effects you’re experiencing with your doctor, he or she may suggest taking a lower dose to lessen them.
Cymbalta’s Common Side Effects
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines common side effects as those that appear in one out of every 10 patients. For Cymbalta, the list of common side effects is fairly short.
If you experience any of them, you should take note of any that are persistent or become severe so you can discuss them with your doctor later.
Some of the more common Cymbalta side effects are:
- Chronic trouble sleeping
- Excessive sweating
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Low energy levels
Cymbalta’s Infrequent Side Effects
Infrequent side effects are those that occur in approximately every one in 100 patients. The list of infrequent side effects for Cymbalta is longer than the common side effects list, but most of them aren’t considered severe.
Some of the more infrequent side effects that don’t normally present as severe problems, include:
- Feeling of anxiousness
- Abnormal dreams
- Blurred vision
- Lower sex drive
- Inability to have an erection
- Trouble achieving an orgasm
- Problems ejaculating
- Feeling agitated
- Feeling weak
- Involuntary quivering
- Muscle spasms
- Sensation of spinning or whirling
- Sleep disorder
- Increased nighttime urination
- Temporary redness in your face or on your neck
- Weight loss or weight gain
It’s also possible for people taking Cymbalta to have spells where they feel faint. These tend to be more severe than the other infrequent side effects so you should discuss them with your doctor if they occur.
Are the Side Effects Immediate?
You may experience side effects as soon as you start taking Cymbalta. Some of the more common ones, such as nausea and problems sleeping, happen right away but they typically subside within a few weeks. Fatigue and drowsiness are also symptoms that are common during the early weeks of Cymbalta treatment, as is dry mouth and blurred vision.
As your treatment progresses, you might discover that other side effects are affecting you. For example, you probably won’t notice that you’re gaining or losing weight when you first start taking Cymbalta, but you may notice it a month or two later.
Regardless of when your symptoms start, you should track and monitor them so you can discuss them with your doctor — especially if they’re severe. If the side effects you experience don’t subside, your doctor may want to lower your dosage or try a different medication.
Rare Cymbalta Side Effects
Cymbalta also has a pretty long list of side effects that are considered rare. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines rare side effects as those that occur in approximatelyone in every 1,000 patients.
Cymbalta’s rare side effects include:
- Aggressive behavior
- Bad breath
- Abnormal manner of walking
- Bleeding that isn’t related to your menstrual period
- Blood pressure dropping when you stand up
- Excessive burping
- Bruising easily
- Inability to completely empty your bladder
- Blood clots
- Confusion or disorientation
- Contact dermatitis
- Difficult or painful urination
- Discharge of milk in men — or women who aren’t currently breastfeeding
- Dry eyes
- Excessive urination
- Excessive thirst
- Extreme discomfort in calves when sitting or laying down
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Immediate need to urinate
- Painful, red, or swollen mouth
- Rashes and/or hives
- Stomach cramps
- Sensitivity to the sun
- Ringing in your ears
- Stomach ulcers
More Serious Cymbalta Side Effects
Cymbalta can also cause more serious side effects. But it’s important to note that all of the serious side effects are categorized as rare side effects — approximately one in 1,000 patients experience them.
- Abnormal liver function tests
- Acute inflammation of the pancreas
- Excessive cheerfulness and activity
- Bleeding of the stomach or intestines
- Burning stomach
- Erythema multiforme
- Extrapyramidal reaction
- Feeling of throat tightness
- Giant hives
- Thoughts of suicide
- Heart attack
- Inflammation of blood vessels in the skin
- Inflammation of the large intestine
- Life-threatening allergic reaction
- Liver failure
- Secondary angle-closure glaucoma
- Serotonin syndrome
- Stevens-Johnson syndrome
- Supraventricular tachycardia
Are There Long-Term Side Effects or Harm Caused By Cymbalta Use?
The FDA approved Cymbalta in 2004, and as of February 2019, there aren’t any known long-term, harmful side effects caused by the medication. However, as with all prescription medications, it’s important to take Cymbalta as prescribed by your doctor.
Pregnancy Side Effects of Cymbalta
You can take Cymbalta if you’re pregnant, as long as your doctor approves. However, be aware that if you take Cymbalta after the first 13 weeks of your pregnancy, there is a chance that your baby could be born before it’s fully developed (before 37 weeks of gestation).
If you plan to become pregnant while taking Cymbalta, you should discuss your options with your doctor, especially if you’re being treated for major depressive disorder. Untreated major depressive disorder can affect both you and your baby, so your doctor will help you weigh your options.
The Cymbalta effects on baby may be a lesser risk than taking you off of the medication.
If you find out you’re pregnant while taking Cymbalta, don’t stop taking the medication because it can cause severe withdrawal symptoms including:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Tingling and numbing
Instead, you should contact your doctor to discuss your options. If you and your doctor decide to stop your Cymbalta treatment while you’re pregnant, your doctor will put you on a schedule to wean you off of the medication so you don’t have serious withdrawal symptoms.
Cymbalta’s Drug Identification Number
Cymbalta is available in 20 mg, 30 mg, and 60 mg capsules. The capsule color varies between dosage amounts and there are two different drug identification numbers for 60 mg Cymbalta.
- Cymbalta 20 mg capsules are green and marked with Lilly 3235 20 mg
- Cymbalta 30 mg capsules are blue and white and marked with Lilly 3240 30 mg
- Cymbalta 60 mg capsules are blue and green and marked with either Lilly 3270 or Lilly 3237 and 60 mg
The amount of Cymbalta you’re prescribed depends on what you’re being treated for and your age. It’s important to follow your doctor’s orders when taking it because in some cases, they may ease you into taking the correct amount by increasing or lowering the dosage depending on how your body responds to the medication.
Dosage for Treating Major Depressive Disorder
For the treatment of major depressive disorder, patients are prescribed between 40 mg and 60 mg of Cymbalta per day. When you’re prescribed 40 mg of Cymbalta, you would take a 20 mg capsule twice per day.
If you’re prescribed 60 mg of Cymbalta per day, your doctor may prescribe you one 60 mg capsule per day or two doses of one 30 mg capsule per day.
In some cases, doctors prescribe 30 mg capsules of Cymbalta to be taken once per day for the first week. Then, the dose increases to two 30 mg doses per day. This allows patients to adjust to the medication slowly.
Dosage for Treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder
When treating generalized anxiety disorder, the dosage amount depends on the age of the patient. It’s also prescribed in a way that allows the patient to get used to the medication slowly.
For children between the ages of 7 and 17, a 30 mg dose once per day is prescribed. This regimen is followed for two weeks to see how well it works.
If the medication isn’t working well, your doctor may increase the dosage amount to 60 mg per day. The dosage can be increased in 30 mg increments up to a maximum of 120 mg of Cymbalta per day.
Adults who are prescribed Cymbalta to treat generalized anxiety disorder typically begin their treatment taking one 60 mg dose per day. However, your doctor may opt to prescribe one 30 mg dose per day for the first week of your treatment, and then, increasing to 60 mg.
The dosage can be increased as needed in 30 mg increments up to a maximum amount of 120 mg per day.
Elderly patients are prescribed Cymbalta in the same way as children. They start off taking one 30 mg capsule per day for two weeks. If necessary, the doctor then increases the amount to 60 mg per day.
If need, the dosage is increased in 30 mg increments until the maximum per day dosage amount of 120 mg is reached.
Dosage for Treating Fibromyalgia, Diabetic Nerve Pain, and Musculoskeletal Pain
Patients taking Cymbalta to treat fibromyalgia, diabetic nerve pain, or musculoskeletal pain are prescribed an initial dose of 30 mg of Cymbalta per day for one week. After the initial week, most patients are increased to a 60 mg per day dose.
There isn’t any evidence that suggests that dosage amounts higher than 60 mg per day help with these conditions.
Efficacy for Depression, Anxiety, and Nerve, Bone, and Muscle Pain
Cymbalta is a medication that needs to be taken on a regular basis to prove effective. When taken as directed by your doctor, it alters your brain chemistry to help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety and block specific types of pain.
While the medication has been proven effective, it’s important to remember that it may not be the best medicine for you. Because of this, it’s important to report any side effects you experience to your doctor.
If you’re having severe side effects or they don’t subside within the first couple of weeks of your treatment, your doctor may decide to try a different medication or adjust your daily dosage.
Is Cymbalta Right For You?
Unfortunately, there isn’t one online answer that can tell you whether Cymbalta is the right medication for you. If you think that taking Cymbalta could benefit you, discuss the option with your doctor.
This lets you weigh the pros and cons of the medication with a professional to determine if it’s the best treatment option.
Also, before assuming that Cymbalta is the best treatment option for you, it’s a good idea to review the Cymbalta treatment success rate with your doctor. You should also contact your pharmacy and ask about their Cymbalta treatment cost. This way you’ll know if it’s an affordable option.
When to Consult Your Doctor
You should consult your doctor if you have any of the serious side effects listed above. Also, you should consult your doctor if any of the ones you experience last more than two weeks.
Risks of Cymbalta
In most cases, there aren’t any serious risks involved with taking Cymbalta. However, there are a few things you need to make sure your doctor is aware of before you start taking the medication.
Do Not Take Cymbalta If You:
- Have low amounts of sodium in your blood
- Have an increased risk of bleeding
- Are breastfeeding
- Are pregnant, unless you’re under your doctor’s observation
- Have had a serious allergic reaction to similar medications
- Have kidney disease, liver disease, or heart disease
- Have high blood pressure
- Have a history of manic episodes or bipolar disorder
- Have seizures or a history of seizures
- Have a history of alcohol abuse
There are certain medications that you should avoid taking while you’re taking Cymbalta. These include:
- Blood thinners
- Other antidepressants
- Drugs used to treat mental illnesses such as lithium
- Water pills
- Heart and blood pressure medications
- Some antibiotics including Cipro and Penetrex
- Prescription pain medications including fentanyl
- St. John’s Wort
- Over-the-counter pain medications including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen
What Other Drugs and Treatments Are There?
If you’re taking Cymbalta to treat major depressive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, there are a few similar medications you can consider as an alternative. Other SNRIs include Effexor, Savella, and Pristiq.
Wellbutrin is a viable option for those using Cymbalta to treat major depressive disorder, but it shouldn’t be used to treat anxiety disorder or PTSD.
If you’re treating nerve pain, muscle pain, bone pain, or fibromyalgia, Savella and Pristiq are good alternatives. Lyrica is also commonly used as a treatment for these conditions.
How Many Cycles of Cymbalta Should You Try Before Moving On?
Every person reacts to medications differently, and Cymbalta is no exception. Because of this, you should let your doctor decide how many Cymbalta cycles you should try before you try a new medication.
You should expect to take Cymbalta for at least eight weeks though. This gives your doctor enough time to determine how well the medication works for you and whether the side effects you experience warrant you switching medications.