Guide To Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

Duloxetine belongs to a class of medicines called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs). IT is often sold as Cymbalta. Its ability to help balance an individual's brain chemicals is one of the major reasons this medication is prescribed for several conditions. However, doctors need to monitor patients closely when they are taking it. This is because of the significant side effects.

Duloxetine is an effective medication for depression in adults and is also a common option for anxiety treatment. This medication is also one of the only approved ones for fibromyalgia treatment. It is also considered a powerful pain treatment for the muscles, joints, and nerves. Thus, it is often prescribed as a treatment for osteoarthritis, chronic muscle pain, and diabetic neuropathy. Of course, patients need to understand it before they take it.

How It Works

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This antidepressant is used to balance chemicals in the brain. Rather than investigating the exact effects on the brain, doctors have documented the medication's effects on patient symptoms. The best understanding of the mechanism is that it changes how norepinephrine and serotonin interact with the central nervous system. These are both chemicals that occur naturally in the body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter. It is responsible for a variety of essential functions, including pain perception, digestive system function, and regulation of emotions. 

Norepinephrine acts as a neurotransmitter and hormone. It chiefly carries out its functions in the brain stem. It affects an individual's fight-or-flight instincts, which occur in response to environmental stress. When individuals have an anxiety disorder or depression, they are at a higher risk of experiencing these responses even when they are not in danger. In addition to this, norepinephrine affects an individual's perception of their mood, pain, emotions, and thoughts. It can affect blood pressure and physical movement as well.

Reveal the major uses of this medication next.

Uses And Benefits

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The US Food and Drug Administration has approved duloxetine to treat several conditions. This includes both mental and physical health disorders. It is a common treatment for major depression in adults. This medication is also used to treat anxiety in adults and children. It is one of the few medicines that are specifically approved to treat fibromyalgia. This medication affects an individual's perception of pain. Thus, it may be prescribed to those who have chronic pain caused by many issues. This includes lower back pain, pain from osteoarthritis, or other types of joint pain. Diabetic neuropathy can be treated with it as well. 

This medication helps keep the central nervous system of depression patients from reabsorbing serotonin and norepinephrine. It is also theorized to help increase anti-inflammatory cytokines. These are chemicals that reduce inflammation. However, there are not any studies proving this yet. This medication treats chronic pain by preventing sodium from moving into an individual's cells, which reduces the pain response.

Continue reading to reveal the side effects of this medication now.

Potential Side Effects

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The most common side effects of this medication are mild. It may cause fatigue, sleepiness, and dizziness. Thus, patients should avoid driving until they know how the medicine affects them. Some patients will also experience insomnia. This effect increases daytime sleepiness. Individuals can also deal with mild flu-like symptoms such as constipation, nausea, and diarrhea on this medication. An increased appetite is relatively common, as is difficulty urinating and low sodium. This can cause issues with staying hydrated.

Excessive sweating has been reported on this medication as well. It might also cause irregular control of blood sugar in diabetes patients. There may also be severe skin reactions that prevent individuals from continuing to take this medication. With time, it may lead to organ damage in specific systems. Serotonin syndrome can occur due to this medication also. This is a medical emergency, which means that it can be fatal if it is not treated promptly. Serotonin syndrome has many symptoms, some of the most common being hallucinations, agitation, and coma.

Get the full details on precautions linked to this medication next.

Precautions To Remember

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Pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding should not take duloxetine due to the effects on the baby. According to the FDA, this medication may also cause patients to have suicidal thoughts upon first taking it. This is particularly likely in adolescents and children. Thus, it is important for doctors to carefully monitor a patient's mood and other reactions during the first four months that they are taking this medication. 

In addition, patients cannot drink alcohol or smoke on this medication. Smoking can make it up to a third less effective. Doctors should screen for bipolar disorder before prescribing this medication. The reason is that it may trigger manic or rapid-cycling episodes.

Uncover the potential medication interactions next.

Potential Medication Interactions

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Duloxetine can interact with many medications. Thus, patients must discuss the medications that they currently take with their doctor. Patients cannot take this medication with any monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). They also need to wait for several days after finishing a course of MAOIs before it is safe to take this medication. If individuals take other medicines that affect their serotonin levels, their chances of developing serotonin syndrome are higher. This is why patients need to tell their doctor if they take other antidepressants. 

Amphetamines for attention deficit hyperactive disorder also interact with this medication. Patients should also inform their doctor if they take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications or herbal supplements like St. John's Wort. Diuretics, migraine medications, and heart medications also interact with duloxetine. 

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    Katherine MacAulay