Medications help thousands of people manage anxiety and depression daily. One of them is duloxetine, a prescription drug that is more widely recognized by its trade name Cymbalta, which was approved for use in 2004. Another trade name for it is Irenka. Some physicians prescribe duloxetine to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), fibromyalgia, and chronic musculoskeletal pain. It can also be used to treat fibromyalgia and chronic musculoskeletal pain.

Duloxetine is part of a class of drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). It works by regulating two naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the brain, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which are linked to a person’s mood, motivation, and energy level. It blocks the reuptake process, which happens when extra chemicals are removed from the nervous system and recycled.

A dose of duloxetine can range anywhere from 20 mg (milligrams) to 120 mg and is usually taken one or two times a day with or without food. A doctor or other health care provider is the best person to determine the correct dose for patients. Usually, a duloxetine dose starts off at a low and is gradually increased over several weeks.

While therapeutic use of duloxetine helps make managing some conditions easier to manage, it does come with side effects.  If you are taking this medication or are thinking about using it, here’s an overview of what side effects are commonly reported among duloxetine users.

Side Effects

According to RxList, common side effects of duloxetine include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)

Troublesome Side Effects Of Duloxetine

Mental health disorders can be complex, and the medications used to treat them can sometimes make them worse or create new symptoms. Below are some of the severe side effects of duloxetine use. If you have any of these, see your doctor as soon as possible.


Duloxetine use can lead to an increase in depression and thoughts of suicide in some people, particularly those age 24 and younger. If left unaddressed, suicidal actions may follow. If you are taking duloxetine, it’s important to let your doctor know about any side effects you might experience. If you have noticed new or worsening symptoms of depression, or if you are having thoughts of suicide, meet with your doctor as soon as possible.

Serotonin Syndrome

Medications that affect serotonin levels in the brain have the potential to create a side effect called serotonin syndrome, a condition that happens when serotonin builds up in the brain. When this happens, a person taking duloxetine can experience severe confusion, agitation, tremors, and elevated blood pressure. The person might also have a fast heart rate and have trouble with coordination.

Medical intervention is required to treat serotonin syndrome. Without it, the condition can be life-threatening. Serotonin syndrome is more likely to occur when a drug is mixed with other drugs that affect serotonin levels, such as other SNRI medications or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Drowsiness, Blood Pressure Changes

Duloxetine can make some users very sleepy or unusually drowsy, which can affect their ability to think or react quickly and cloud their decision-making ability. Do not take this medication if you have to drive, operate heavy machinery, or engage in other activities that require full attention. Some patients have reported orthostatic hypotension, a condition in which blood pressure drops after standing up or getting up from sleeping. People who are taking medications for high blood pressure will want to talk with their physician about duloxetine.

Other severe side effects of duloxetine are:

  • Liver damage
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Seizures

Some severe side effects may require immediate medical attention. Severe side effects are more likely to occur in people who abuse or mix the drug with other substances.

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