Cymbalta is the brand-name version of duloxetine, which is a “dual-inhibitor” SNRI-type antidepressant. It is most commonly prescribed to treat depression and anxiety, although it is also used to treat some forms of pain such as diabetic neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. As of 2014, Cymbalta was the seventh most commonly prescribed drug in the United States.
Cymbalta is usually taken in 60mg daily doses, but it can go up to 120mg in some cases. While abuse of this substance is rare, there have been recorded overdoses from 1000mg of Cymbalta. Most of the time, overdoses are caused by taking duloxetine at the same time as alcohol or other depressants. An overdose of duloxetine can involve
- Extreme sleepiness
- Blood pressure that is too high or too low
Generally, duloxetine is not addictive, as it does not produce a noticeable rush or high. However, like many addictive substances, it can cause withdrawal symptoms when treatment is stopped. For this reason, patients should stop taking Cymbalta under the supervision of their doctor, slowly reducing the dose and monitoring withdrawal symptoms.
Cymbalta has also been linked to serotonin syndrome, a dangerous condition that occurs when too much serotonin accumulates in the body. Serotonin syndrome can cause hallucinations, seizures and unconsciousness; it can be fatal if left untreated. As a result, patients taking duloxetine should be on the lookout for unusual side effects such as agitation, rapid heart rate, shivering and muscle rigidity.
Duloxetine is a medication typically used to treat depression and anxiety disorders. SNRIs work by increasing serotonin and norepinephrine in the body, as opposed to the more popular SSRIs (such as Prozac and Zoloft) that affect only serotonin levels.
Duloxetine is taken orally once or twice a day. It begins working within two weeks and is usually taken for a minimum of six months. It may take longer for some people to start experiencing a benefit from taking the drug, and the length of the treatment will vary widely. Many people take it for several years.
Common side effects of Cymbalta include
- Dry Mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Increased sweating
- Dizziness and lightheadedness, particularly when starting a course or following an increase in dosage
Other, less common side effects include sexual dysfunction, liver damage and colitis. Liver damage is more likely if you mix alcohol with duloxetine, which is one of the reasons why it is not recommended to drink alcohol while taking the drug.
As a rule, duloxetine is not an addictive substance when taken correctly. However, many people experience negative withdrawal symptoms, also known as “discontinuation syndrome,” which can include increased anxiety, mood swings, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and difficulty sleeping. Some patients have also reported feeling suicidal during their withdrawal. For the most part, these symptoms go away within a couple of weeks, although for some people it takes two to three months for the medication to leave the system fully and for withdrawal symptoms to disappear.
In a study carried out by Cymbalta’s manufacturer, in which patients were unknowingly switched from duloxetine to a placebo, 44 percent of test subjects developed discontinuation syndrome, with ten percent having severe symptoms. Another study showed that people who had taken the medication for a long period of time were more likely to develop discontinuation syndrome, with 60 percent of people who had taken it for two years or more being affected.
To prevent these withdrawal symptoms, a course of Cymbalta is usually stopped gradually, with patients reducing their doses slowly over several weeks. This limits the negative side effects of withdrawal and allows the patient to remain stable during the process. You should never stop taking duloxetine suddenly or without your doctor’s approval. Doing so could damage the progress you have made by taking it.
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Many people take duloxetine for long stretches of time to manage pain, major depressive disorders and generalized anxiety disorders. While loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss are common symptoms of Cymbalta, some long-term users have reported weight gain after prolonged usage of the drug. For the most part, though, the drug has no lasting negative long-term effects when taken correctly and under the supervision of a doctor.
The most important thing to remember is this: do not to stop taking duloxetine suddenly because you feel you are fine, or because you feel it is no longer helping you, as this can make things worse.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.