Cymbalta (or duloxetine) is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), which fixes imbalances of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. It is primarily used to treat depression and anxiety, but may also successfully relieve nerve pain in those with diabetes or ongoing pain due to conditions like arthritis, chronic back pain, or fibromyalgia. This prescription medication works to improve one’s mood, appetite, sleep, and energy level, as well as lessen nerves.

Use and Dosage

This medication is to be taken by mouth as instructed by your doctor, usually once or twice per day with or without food. If you are sensitive to nausea, it is probably best you take it with food. You should not crush, chew, or mix the contents of the pill with food or liquid—this will release all of the medication at one time, which will increase your risk of experiencing unwanted side effects. Instead, simply swallow the tablet whole.

The precise dosage will vary from person-to-person depending on one’s age, medical condition, and initial response to treatment. Your doctor may recommend you start with a lower dosage (to reduce your risk of experiencing harmful side effects), but this can be gradually increased to meet your medical needs. It is important, though, that you follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and take the medication at the same time each day: this will ensure you get the most out of it.

If you start to feel better after taking Cymbalta, you should still continue the medication as prescribed. A simple conversation with your healthcare practitioner will help you determine if you should indeed stop taking the medication. Furthermore, they will help ween you off of the medicine, as some conditions may worsen when this drug is suddenly stopped.

Side Effects of Cymbalta

As with many prescription medications, Cymbalta may produce some unwanted side effects. Dizziness and lightheadedness, for example, commonly occur when patients first start the medication or increase their dosage. You can reduce the risk and severity of these side effects by getting up slowly after sitting or lying down. The following effects, ranging from mild to severe, may also occur:

Mild Side Effects (which require a prompt chat with your doctor)

      • Nausea
      • Dry mouth
      • Loss of appetite
      • Constipation
      • Nausea
      • Drowsiness
      • Increased sweating

Serious Side Effects (which require an immediate talk with your doctor)

      • Confusion
      • Easy bruising/bleeding
      • Decreased interest in sex
      • Changes in sexual ability
      • Shaking
      • Signs of live issues (e.g., abdominal pain)
      • Persistent nausea
      • Yellowing eyes or skin

Severe Side Effects (which require immediate medical attention)

    • Seizure
    • Black or bloody stools
    • Vomit that look like coffee grounds
    • Eye pain, swelling, or redness
    • Changes in vision
    • Widened pupils

It is also possible (though rarely) for Cymbalta to cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity, which occurs from an increase in serotonin. Your risk of developing this condition increases if you take other drugs that increase serotonin, so it is important that you tell your doctor about all of the drugs you take. A fast heartbeat, hallucinations, and loss of coordination may signify the development of this disease.

Before Taking Cymbalta…

It’s important you take precautionary measures while on your treatment journey. Before you start taking Cymbalta, you should first…

  • Tell your health care practitioner about any allergies you have, as active ingredients in Cymbalta can cause allergic reactions or other issues.
  • Talk to them about your medical history, including personal and family history with bipolar disorder or manic-depressive disorder, suicide attempts, bleeding problems, glaucoma, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and alcohol abuse.
  • Understand fully the effects of this drug, such as dizziness and drowsiness, that demand you don’t drive motor vehicles, operate machinery, or engage in any other activity that requires alertness.
  • Consider your age in regards to using this medication, as older adults may be more sensitive to side effects like bleeding, dizziness, and loss of coordination, while children may be more sensitive to side effects like weight loss and loss of appetite.