Duloxetine (Cymbalta) Side Effects

What you will learn in this article:

- Duloxetine (Cymbalta) is an SSNRI medication primarily prescribed for depression, anxiety, and nerve pain conditions like fibromyalgia and diabetic neuropathy.

- Common side effects include nausea, dry mouth, drowsiness, and increased sweating, which typically diminish as the body adjusts.

- Rarer side effects range from skin issues to more severe symptoms like jaundice or vision changes, emphasizing the importance of vigilance.

- If severe reactions or any unusual symptoms arise, it's crucial to seek medical attention immediately and consult with a healthcare professional before making any changes to medication usage.

Duloxetine, more widely recognized by its brand name Cymbalta, has become a go-to medication for a range of conditions, from depression and anxiety to nerve pain linked with fibromyalgia, spinal disc conditions, or diabetic neuropathy.

Its versatility in addressing these ailments has made it a staple in many medicine cabinets.

However, as with all medications, Duloxetine doesn't come without its set of side effects.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the spectrum of these side effects, from the common and mild to the rare and potentially severe.

By the end, you'll have a clear understanding of what to expect, how to manage potential reactions, and when it's crucial to seek medical intervention.

Knowledge is power, and being well-informed ensures safer use of Duloxetine.

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Overview of Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

Duloxetine (Cymbalta) Side Effects

Duloxetine is a type of medication classified as a Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SSNRI).

Its primary function is to influence neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically serotonin and norepinephrine, which play crucial roles in mood regulation and pain perception.

The versatility of Duloxetine is evident in its wide range of applications.

It's frequently prescribed for major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, offering relief to those grappling with the weight of these conditions.

Beyond mood disorders, Duloxetine has also shown efficacy in treating nerve pain, especially pain associated with diabetic neuropathy and fibromyalgia.

Its dual action on mood and pain pathways makes it a unique and valuable tool in the medical arsenal, providing relief to countless individuals across various ailments.

Common Side Effects of Duloxetine

While Duloxetine has been a beacon of hope for many, it's not without its share of side effects.

Users often report a range of reactions, some of which are more prevalent than others.

Commonly experienced side effects include nausea, dry mouth, drowsiness, fatigue, and increased sweating.

Some individuals might also experience a decreased appetite, which can lead to weight loss over time.

Most of these side effects are transient, meaning they tend to diminish as the body adjusts to the medication.

Typically, they might last for a few days to a couple of weeks after starting or adjusting the dosage.

However, if they persist or become bothersome, it's essential to consult a healthcare professional.

Managing these reactions often involves adjusting the dosage, changing the time of day the medication is taken, or incorporating lifestyle changes like dietary adjustments or increased hydration.

It's always recommended to communicate any concerns or changes in side effects to ensure safe and effective use of Duloxetine.

The following is a more thorough list of the possible side effects that can occur (these are the most common side effects).

Everyone is different and you may experience a side effect that is not on the list.

If you are experiencing a new symptom while taking this medication, you should bring that to your doctor’s attention as well.

Allergic reaction: skin rash or hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat

Mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, feeling impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay–colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)

Feeling like you might pass out

Agitation, hallucinations, fever, fast heart rate, overactive reflexes, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination

Very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, tremors

Easy bruising, unusual bleeding

Painful or difficult urination

Headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, feeling unsteady, seizure, shallow breathing or breathing that stops

Severe skin reaction – fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling

Dry mouth


Tired feeling

Mild nausea or loss of appetite


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Rare Side Effects of Duloxetine

While the common side effects of Duloxetine are well-documented, there are rarer reactions that, though infrequent, can have significant implications.

Some users have reported skin issues like rashes or itching, while others have experienced more severe symptoms like jaundice, dark urine, or changes in vision.

There have also been instances of users feeling unusually agitated, having trouble sleeping, or even experiencing hallucinations.

Given the potential severity of these less common reactions, it's crucial to be vigilant.

If any of these symptoms arise, it's imperative to seek medical attention immediately.

It's also worth noting that abrupt discontinuation of Duloxetine can lead to withdrawal symptoms, so any decision to stop or adjust the medication should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional.

For those considering or currently on Duloxetine, the key is awareness.

While the likelihood of encountering these rare side effects is low, being informed and prepared ensures that any potential issues are addressed promptly and effectively.

Always prioritize open communication with healthcare providers and stay attuned to any changes in your well-being.

Potentially Severe Reactions

Duloxetine, while beneficial for many, has a spectrum of side effects, and at the extreme end are reactions that can be life-altering.

Some of these severe reactions include chest pain, difficulty breathing, and severe nausea or vomiting.

There have also been reports of users experiencing a rapid or irregular heartbeat, severe dizziness, or fainting spells.

In some rare cases, Duloxetine has been linked to liver problems, with symptoms like yellowing eyes or skin, abdominal pain, or persistent nausea.

It's essential to be proactive in recognizing these signs.

If any of these symptoms manifest, it's not the time for guesswork or waiting it out.

Immediate medical attention is paramount.

While these severe reactions are infrequent, their potential impact on health cannot be understated.

Being informed and vigilant ensures that any adverse reactions are addressed promptly, minimizing potential risks and complications.

Always prioritize your health and well-being, and never hesitate to seek help if something feels off.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Navigating the world of medications, especially one as potent as Duloxetine, requires a balance of trust and caution.

While many side effects are mild and transient, there are clear red flags that signal it's time to consult a healthcare professional.

If you experience symptoms like chest pain, severe nausea, yellowing of the eyes or skin, or any other severe reactions previously mentioned, it's crucial to seek medical advice immediately.

Additionally, any new or unusual symptoms, even if they seem unrelated, should be discussed with a doctor.

If you suspect severe side effects, the first step is to stop taking the medication, but only under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Abrupt discontinuation can lead to withdrawal symptoms, so it's essential to have a structured plan.

Document any symptoms, their onset, and any other relevant details.

This information can be invaluable for healthcare providers in determining the best course of action.

Remember, when it comes to your health, it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Prioritize your well-being, stay informed, and never hesitate to seek professional guidance.

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The realization that a medication with so much potential also came with risks was both enlightening and concerning. It's like realizing your favorite food might not be so good for you after all.

From my research, Duloxetine's side effects are on par with other SSNRIs. However, every medication has its unique profile. For instance, while Prozac might cause more sleep disturbances, Duloxetine might lead to more fatigue. It's all about weighing the pros and cons and finding what's right for you.

The potential liver problems really caught me off guard. It's a stark reminder that even widely prescribed medications can have serious implications. Always be vigilant and informed.

It's genuinely alarming. The thought that a medication can lead to such severe reactions is a wake-up call. It underscores the importance of being proactive and seeking help when something feels off.

Always, always consult with a healthcare professional. They can provide insights, guide dosage, and monitor for side effects. It's not just about reading the label; it's about understanding it.

Yes, there are other SSNRIs and even SSRIs that can be considered. Medications like Effexor XR or Prozac might be alternatives. However, the best fit depends on individual needs and potential side effects.


Viktrup, L., Pangallo, B., Detke, M., & Zinner, N. (2004). Urinary Side Effects of Duloxetine in the Treatment of Depression and Stress Urinary Incontinence. PDF Link

Neff, Donald A., Guise, A., Guralnick, M., Langenstroer, P., See, W., Jacobsohn, K., & O'Connor, R. (2013). Duloxetine for the treatment of post-prostatectomy stress urinary incontinence. PDF Link

Hieronymus, F., Lisinski, A., Eriksson, E., & Østergaard, S. (2021). Do side effects of antidepressants impact efficacy estimates based on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale? A pooled patient-level analysis. PDF Link

Polychroniou, Philip E., Mayberg, H., Craighead, E., Rakofsky, J., Aponte Rivera, Vivianne, Haroon, E., Mayberg, H., Craighead, W. E., Rakofsky, J., & Dunlop, B. (2018). Temporal Profiles and Dose-Responsiveness of Side Effects with Escitalopram and Duloxetine in Treatment-Naïve Depressed Adults. PDF Link

Dr. Ron Daulton, Jr.

About the Author

Dr. Ron Daulton, Jr., an acclaimed chiropractor, esteemed educator, and inspiring author, has devoted his life to fostering understanding of natural healthcare and enhancing well-being across society.

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