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Cymbalta: What to Know About Duloxetine Side Effects & More

Cymbalta helps many people live normal lives, but there's also some risks. Learn the facts about Cymbalta and more in our blog.

Cymbalta: Duloxetine Side Effects and More

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

March 28, 2024

The Edge Treatment Center

Cymbalta (duloxetine) is an antidepressant for treating anxiety, depression, and various types of pain. As a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), it adjusts brain chemicals to improve your mood and alleviate pain.

However, potential side effects vary from mild to severe.

At The Edge Treatment Center, we're here to support your health journey with personalized care, helping you manage Cymbalta side effects and move towards a healthier life. You're not alone in this; let us guide you towards recovery.

What Is Cymbalta?

As mentioned, Cymbalta (duloxetine) is an SNRI antidepressant used to treat:

And more. Cymbalta works by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which are neurotransmitters responsible for regulating mood and emotions.

Cymbalta was first approved by the FDA in 2004 for major depressive disorder and later for other conditions such as fibromyalgia, diabetic neuropathy, and chronic musculoskeletal pain. It is available in delayed-release capsules and comes in various strengths.

Is Cymbalta a Narcotic?

No, Cymbalta is not a narcotic. It does not contain opioids or any other addictive substances. However, it does have the potential for abuse if taken in high doses or for an extended period of time.

When abused, Cymbalta can cause a "high" feeling and may lead to dangerous side effects such as seizures, heart problems, and liver damage. It is essential to take Cymbalta exactly as prescribed by your doctor and not to share it with others.

Is Cymbalta a Controlled Substance?

No, Cymbalta is not considered a controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). However, it's important to keep track of your medication and dispose of any unused capsules safely to prevent abuse.

Cymbalta is a prescription medication, however. It is illegal to obtain or use it without a valid prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.

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What Are SNRI Drugs?

SNRI (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) drugs are a class of antidepressants that work by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. These neurotransmitters play a role in regulating mood, emotions, and pain perception.

Other SNRI drugs include venlafaxine (Effexor), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), and levomilnacipran (Fetzima). They are commonly used to treat various conditions such as depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.

How Do SNRIs Work?

SNRIs work by blocking the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine, allowing these neurotransmitters to remain in the brain's synapses for longer. This can improve communication between nerve cells and help regulate mood, emotions, and pain perception.

What Is Serotonin?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating mood, sleep, and appetite. It is often referred to as the "happiness hormone" due to its effects on overall well-being.

What Is Norepinephrine?

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that helps control alertness and arousal. It also plays a role in stress response and pain perception.

Does Cymbalta Come in Different Strengths?

Yes, Cymbalta comes in different strengths, including 20mg, 30mg, and 60mg delayed-release capsules. The strength prescribed to you will depend on your condition and response to the medication.

It is essential to follow your doctor's instructions carefully and not to adjust your dosage without consulting them first. Abruptly stopping or changing the dose of Cymbalta can lead to withdrawal symptoms and other adverse effects.

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What Does Cymbalta Feel Like?

The effects of Cymbalta may vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience a significant improvement in their mood and pain symptoms, while others may not notice much of a difference.

Commonly reported positive feelings include an improved sense of well-being, increased energy, and reduced anxiety and depression. However, it is essential to keep in mind that Cymbalta is not a "happy pill" and may take several weeks to reach its full effect.

What Conditions Is Cymbalta Used For?

Cymbalta is primarily used to treat major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and chronic musculoskeletal pain. It may also be prescribed for diabetic neuropathy, fibromyalgia, and other conditions as determined by a doctor.

Individuals with any of these conditions should consult with their healthcare provider to determine if Cymbalta is an appropriate treatment option for them.

Here are some more details about the conditions Cymbalta is often used to treat:

Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder is a mental health condition characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities. It can significantly impact daily functioning and quality of life.

Cymbalta may help improve mood, energy levels, and overall well-being in individuals with this condition.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic condition characterized by excessive and persistent worry or anxiety about various aspects of life. It can cause significant distress and interfere with daily activities.

Cymbalta may help reduce symptoms of GAD, such as excessive worrying, restlessness, and muscle tension.

Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain

Chronic musculoskeletal pain refers to ongoing pain in the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones. It can result from various conditions, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, and injury.

Cymbalta may help reduce pain intensity and improve physical functioning in individuals with chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur in people with diabetes. It often causes numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, as well as pain or discomfort.

Cymbalta may help manage symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, such as pain, numbness, and tingling.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain and tenderness throughout the body. It can also cause fatigue, sleep disturbances, and other symptoms.

Cymbalta may help improve overall symptoms and functioning in individuals with fibromyalgia.

Overall, Cymbalta is a versatile medication that can be used to treat various conditions effectively when prescribed and monitored by a healthcare professional. If you have any questions or concerns about using Cymbalta, please consult your doctor for personalized advice. Remember to always follow the recommended dosage.

How Long Does It Take for Cymbalta to Work?

It can take several weeks for Cymbalta to reach its full effect. Some individuals may notice an improvement in their symptoms within a few weeks, while others may take up to 4-6 weeks to experience the full benefits.

It's crucial to be patient and consistent with taking Cymbalta as prescribed by your doctor. If you do not notice any improvements after several weeks, talk to your doctor about adjusting your dose or trying a different medication.

Overall, Cymbalta can be an effective treatment option for those struggling with depression, anxiety, or chronic pain when taken as directed and monitored by a healthcare professional. It's essential to inform your doctor of any potential interactions and side effects to ensure the safe and effective use of this medication.

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Is It Dangerous to Mix Cymbalta With Other Drugs?

It can be dangerous to mix Cymbalta with certain medications, including other antidepressants, blood thinners, and migraine medications. These combinations may increase the risk of side effects, such as bleeding or serotonin syndrome.

Alcohol and Cymbalta

Combining alcohol with Cymbalta is also not recommended, as it may increase the risk of liver damage and worsen certain side effects, such as dizziness and drowsiness. It is best to avoid or limit alcohol consumption while taking this medication.

Painkillers and Cymbalta

Mixing Cymbalta with painkillers, such as opioids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can also have adverse effects. These combinations may increase the risk of bleeding and stomach ulcers.

It is essential to inform your doctor about any medications you are taking before starting Cymbalta to avoid potential interactions and complications.

Herbal Supplements and Cymbalta

Herbal supplements can also interact with Cymbalta and should be used with caution. For instance, St. John's Wort, often used for depression, may reduce the effectiveness of Cymbalta and cause adverse reactions.

Other Medications and Cymbalta

Always inform your doctor about any medications or supplements you are taking before starting Cymbalta. They can advise you on potential interactions and monitor your treatment accordingly.

What Are Common Cymbalta Side Effects?

Cymbalta is effective for many people, but it's common to experience side effects. If any affect you, remember, you're not alone:


Often improves after the first few weeks. Eating before taking Cymbalta can help.

Dry Mouth

Staying hydrated and practicing good oral hygiene can lessen this effect.


Increase fluids, fiber, and exercise. Consider OTC stool softeners if needed.

Drowsiness & Dizziness

Usually decreases as your body adjusts. Try taking Cymbalta earlier if drowsiness is an issue; move slowly to manage dizziness.

Insomnia & Headaches

Good sleep hygiene and staying hydrated can help.

Loss of Appetite & Weight Changes

Notify your doctor if this symptom becomes severe. Maintain a healthy diet.


Adjust sleep and diet. Energy levels typically rebound.

Sexual Side Effects

These may improve over time. Discuss with your doctor.

Hot Flashes

Staying cool and hydrated helps manage these.

If you find these side effects challenging, reach out to us. At The Edge Treatment Center, we understand the journey through treatment and recovery, offering personalized care to support you toward a healthier life.

Serious Cymbalta Side Effects

Cymbalta helps many but can have serious side effects that need immediate medical attention:

Serotonin Syndrome

This rare but critical condition shows up as high fever, rapid heartbeat, tremors, and hallucinations. Seek emergency care if you notice these.

Allergic Reactions

Difficulty breathing, throat swelling, or severe rash? Get help right away. Minor reactions may include hives or swelling.

Abnormal Bleeding

Unexplained bruising or bleeding? Inform your doctor.

Liver Damage

Watch for dark urine, yellowing skin, severe fatigue, and abdominal pain. These symptoms of liver disease require urgent care.

Low Sodium

Experiencing headaches, confusion, or weakness? It could be a sign of low sodium levels; consult with your doctor.

Glaucoma Risk

If you have vision changes or eye pain, see an ophthalmologist.

If you're worried about these or struggling with side effects, we're here for you. The Edge Treatment Center offers compassionate, personalized care to guide you through recovery. You're not alone; let us help you navigate this journey.

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Can I Get Addicted to Cymbalta?

Cymbalta is not considered addictive, as it does not create a physical dependency like opioids or benzodiazepines. However, some individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking Cymbalta suddenly.

It is crucial to follow your doctor's instructions and gradually decrease the dosage when stopping Cymbalta to avoid any potential withdrawal effects. If you have concerns about addiction, talk to your doctor for more information and support.

Long-Term Side Effects of Cymbalta

Knowing the potential long-term side effects of Cymbalta helps you make a well-informed choice. Long-term use may increase risks of:

  • Falling: Particularly in older individuals, there's a noted higher chance of falls.

  • Cardiovascular Issues: The connection to heart disease needs more study, but awareness is crucial.

  • Weight Gain: Extended use has been linked to weight gain.

  • Suicidal Thoughts: Some research associates long-term Cymbalta use with an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

It's important to weigh these potential risks against the benefits Cymbalta offers for your health and well-being.

Cymbalta Warnings & Precautions

Before starting Cymbalta, discuss your medical history and all health conditions with your doctor to determine if it is safe for you to use. Always keep your doctor informed of any new medications, supplements, or health conditions before starting or stopping Cymbalta to reduce risks. Some important warnings and precautions to know include:

  • Increased risk of suicidal thoughts in young adults: Close monitoring is required.

  • Pregnancy/breastfeeding risks: Weigh the pros and cons with your OB-GYN.

  • Interactions with other medications: Check for interactions.

  • Narrow-angle glaucoma risk: May worsen eye pressure.

  • Elderly dementia risk: Use caution if age >65.

  • Kidney or liver problems: Dose adjustments may be required.

  • Bleeding problems: Can increase abnormal bleeding.

  • Blood pressure issues: May cause increases; monitor BP.

  • Seizures or bipolar disorder: Use carefully.

  • Alcohol use: Avoid drinking while taking Cymbalta.

Tips to Reduce Cymbalta Side Effects

While Cymbalta side effects can't always be prevented, there are things you can try to minimize their severity and duration:

  • Take it with food. Helps reduce nausea.

  • Stay hydrated. Prevents dry mouth and headaches.

  • Limit caffeine. It can worsen insomnia and jitteriness.

  • Take as directed. Don't miss or adjust doses abruptly.

  • Move slowly. Avoid dizziness and falls.

  • Monitor BP. Manage blood pressure increases.

  • Be patient. Most side effects are temporary and improve with time.

  • Communicate with your doctor. Report any severe, concerning, or persistent side effects.

  • Don't drink alcohol. It can make some side effects worse.

When to Call Your Doctor About Cymbalta Side Effects?

Contact your prescribing doctor promptly if you experience any of the following signs of concerning side effects:

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Seizures

  • Yellowing skin/eyes

  • Dark urine

  • Severe nausea/vomiting

  • Racing heartbeat

  • Abnormal bruising/bleeding

  • Fever over 101°F

  • Swelling of the lips, eyes, throat

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Chest pain

  • Loss of vision

  • Very stiff muscles

  • Weakness/fatigue

  • Severe rash

Rare but dangerous reactions require stopping Cymbalta right away and seeking emergency care. Never abruptly stop Cymbalta without guidance, as withdrawal effects can occur. Schedule a follow-up with your doctor within 2 weeks of starting treatment to evaluate your response and any side effects.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Cymbalta?

When you stop taking Cymbalta suddenly, you might experience withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

  • Irritability

  • Vomiting

  • Nightmares

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Body aches

  • Sweating

  • Numbness and tingling

  • Insomnia

  • Suicidal thoughts

These symptoms are usually more intense in the first couple of weeks. Gradual reduction under a doctor's care can help manage these symptoms.

Withdrawal risks are higher with larger doses, longer use, abrupt stopping, a history of substance abuse, underlying health issues, and the use of other medications. Older adults may also be more vulnerable.

At The Edge Treatment Center, we specialize in guiding you through Cymbalta withdrawal safely. Our team creates a tailored plan to reduce the medication slowly, combining medical oversight with therapies such as counseling and lifestyle changes to support you. We're here to make the process as smooth as possible and help you transition to a life free from Cymbalta with care and support.

Cymbalta Black Box Warning for Suicide Risk

Cymbalta, like other antidepressants, carries a warning that it might lead to suicidal thoughts, especially in young people under 24. It's crucial for anyone taking Cymbalta to be closely watched for any mood changes or signs of distress.

Stopping Cymbalta can also trigger such thoughts, which is why there's a specific warning (a " box warning") on its label about these risks. It's important for you and your loved ones to be informed about this when starting the medication.

If you're feeling overwhelmed or having thoughts of suicide, it's critical to get help right away. You can call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or text “HOME” to 741741 to reach the Crisis Textline.

Remember, support is always available.

Empowering Yourself: Managing Medication Challenges and Finding Support

Understanding Cymbalta's side effects is crucial if you’re considering or currently using this medication. While it can be effective in treating depression and anxiety, it's essential to be aware of potential side effects and seek professional help if needed.

At The Edge Treatment Center, we offer personalized outpatient treatment care to support your journey toward a healthier, happier life. If you or a loved one is struggling with medication side effects or addiction, we are here to help.

Reach out today to The Edge Treatment Center to learn more.

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