What Is Cymbalta and What Is It Used For?

Cymbalta is used for the treatment of major depressive disorders, stress urinary incontinence and neuropathic pain. Learn more in this article!
What Is Cymbalta and What Is It Used For?
Franciele Rohor de Souza

Reviewed and approved by the pharmacist Franciele Rohor de Souza.

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 27 November, 2022

Cymbalta is a medicine that contains duloxetine as its active ingredient. It’s a drug that acts by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin and noradrenaline.

Duloxetine is used for the treatment of diseases such as major depression, urinary incontinence, and neuropathic pain. However, by far its main application is in the field of psychiatry.

What is Cymbalta used for?

Duloxetine is used in adults to treat the following conditions:

Neuropathic pain is a condition that appears suddenly when there’s damage to the nerves that carry information from the periphery of the body to the brain. Peripheral neuropathy is an injury that affects neurons outside the spinal cord.

Duloxetine is also prescribed to treat pain that occurs when there’s nerve damage in diabetic patients. The pain in this group of patients is called diabetic neuropathy.

Another application for this drug is the treatment of people with depression or anxiety. The effect of duloxetine is experienced after 2 weeks. However, in some cases, it may take up to 4 weeks before improvements are noticed.

Diabetic neuropathy.
A person suffering from diabetic neuropathy.

What precautions should you take before taking Cymbalta?

Cymbalta is contraindicated if you are allergic to its active ingredient or to any of the ingredients. In addition, you shouldn’t take duloxetine in the following situations:

  • Severe renal or hepatic insufficiency
  • If you have been taking another drug with similar action in the last two weeks, or if you are being treated with ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic widely used for all types of infections
  • Combined with St. John’s wort, often used as a natural antidepressant adjuvant
  • In bipolar disorders

When you start taking Cymbalta you may experience some worsening of the depression or anxiety. It’s essential for the prescribing physician to warn about this initial decrease in the effects so that you aren’t concerned.

How to take Cymbalta

Cymbalta (Duloxetine) is a medication that you take orally. Food doesn’t interfere with its work, so it can be taken with meals or separately from them. However, caution should be taken to avoid alcohol while taking this drug.

The physician will be the one to adjust the doses of duloxetine according to the pathology to be treated. In general, it’s as follows:

  • Depression and diabetic neuropathic pain: The recommended dose is 60 milligrams per day.
  • Generalized anxiety: A starting dose of 30 milligrams per day is used, which is increased to 60 milligrams per day after a certain time has elapsed.

If for any reason the dose of duloxetine is excessive, symptoms such as drowsiness, serotonergic syndrome, convulsions, and an increase in heart rate will be experienced.

It isn’t advisable to suddenly discontinue treatment with Cymbalta, as certain symptoms linked to a kind of withdrawal may appear. Signs of rapid discontinuation include dizziness, sleep disturbances, nausea, and vomiting.

Antidepressants should not be discontinued abruptly, as withdrawal symptoms may occur.

Possible side effects

Most people who take duloxetine experience some side effects. These side effects are generally mild to moderate and subside after a few weeks.

Some of the adverse reactions that patients taking Cymbalta may experience include headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and dry mouth. On the other hand, there are a number of adverse effects that are more common:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping, agitation and nightmares
  • Alterations in vision
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Muscle pain and spasms

When treatment with Cymbalta is started, and until the body assimilates the most suitable therapeutic doses, other less frequent symptoms may manifest, among which are thoughts of suicide, vertigo and ear pain, throat spasms, and nasal bleeding.

In women who are still fertile, abnormal vaginal bleeding may occur. This isn’t serious, but the health professional should warn patients in advance so that there’s no alarm and abrupt discontinuation of duloxetine.

Cymbalta is used for depression

Cymbalta has several applications, thanks to its main component, duloxetine. However, its key use is in depressive disorders. As it’s a medication with psychiatric interference, it must always be prescribed by a health expert.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Ballard, R. R. (2015). Duloxetine (Cymbalta). In Helping Parents and Teachers Understand Medications for Behavioral and Emotional Problems. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9781615370283.md24

  • Duloxetine (Cymbalta) for diabetic neuropathic pain. (2005). Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics.

  • Cobb, C., & Crichlow, R. (2005). Duloxetine (Cymbalta) for treatment of major depressive disorder. American Family Physician.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.