Taking Cymbalta can potentially cause changes in a person’s body weight. Cymbalta is the brand name of an antidepressant medication called duloxetine.
Doctors prescribe Cymbalta to treat depression, anxiety, and some chronic pain disorders, such as fibromyalgia and diabetic neuropathy.
Cymbalta is a type of serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), a class of antidepressants that can increase levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
Increasing these feel-good chemicals may reduce depression symptoms and pain sensations.
Some people who take Cymbalta report changes in their weight. This article examines the link between Cymbalta and weight gain or weight loss.
Most related research suggests that Cymbalta can affect a person’s weight, but only modestly.
It is possible to gain or lose weight while taking other antidepressant drugs. Antidepressants that may lead to weight gain in some people include:
- Some tricyclic antidepressants. Examples of tricyclic antidepressants include amitriptyline (Elavil), imipramine (Tofranil), and doxepin (Silenor). For example, the results of a
2015 meta-analysisof 54 different medications suggest that amitriptyline causes weight gain in some people.
- Some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Some
researchsuggests that these antidepressants may cause weight loss in the short term but weight gain in the longer term.
Expertshave found evidence linking the atypical antidepressant mirtazapine to weight gain.
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However, medications impact people in different ways. What causes weight gain in one person may not affect the body weight of another.
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It is worth remembering that antidepressants may not be directly responsible for weight gain. Individuals may be gaining weight for other reasons, such as:
- an increase in appetite due to an improved mood
- the natural weight gain that results from aging
- overeating, limited exercise, or both due to depression or anxiety
In addition to weight changes, Cymbalta can cause the following side effects in some people:
- dry mouth
- appetite loss
- excessive sweating
More serious side effects, which may require medical attention, include:
- blurred vision
- abdominal pain
- weight and appetite loss
- anxiety and agitation
- insomnia or strange dreams
- sexual dysfunction or low libido
- excessive yawning
- hot flashes
In some cases,
- suicidal thoughts or behaviors in children, teens, and young adults
- liver damage
- mania in people with undiagnosed bipolar disorder
- fluid retention and low sodium levels due to a disruption of antidiuretic hormone secretion
- kidney damage
Mania is a risk for people with bipolar disorder, including those who do not yet have a diagnosis or who received a diagnosis of depression without a previous manic episode.
Symptoms of mania include:
- talking a lot or pressured speech
- feeling “high” or “wired”
- feeling irritable, exuberant, or both
- reduced need to sleep
- racing thoughts
- difficulty focusing
Serotonin syndrome is a life threatening condition that can result from high serotonin levels. It can occur when a person takes Cymbalta with other serotonergic drugs.
Cymbalta may also cause worsening depression, suicidal thoughts, or suicidal behaviors, especially in younger adults. The risk is highest when beginning treatment or changing the dosage.
If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgment.
- Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.
Suddenly stopping taking Cymbalta can cause withdrawal symptoms. It is important to speak to a doctor before stopping the medication.
Withdrawal symptoms can include:
- nausea, vomiting, or both
- prickling or tingling in the skin
Individuals who are taking Cymbalta and experience side effects, including weight changes, should speak with their doctor.
If a person asks about weight changes, the doctor may:
- recommend tests to see if an underlying condition is causing the changes
- suggest changing the dose or trying a different drug
- recommend lifestyle changes, such as exercise and dietary measures to help manage weight
There are many antidepressants that a doctor may suggest as an alternative to Cymbalta. These include:
- Other SNRIs: Examples are venlafaxine (Effexor), levomilnacipran (Fetzima), or desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), which increase the activity of serotonin and noradrenaline in the brain.
- SSRIs: Citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft) aim to boost mood by increasing serotonin action in the brain.
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): MAOIs are older types of antidepressants and include isocarboxazid (Marplan) and phenelzine (Nardil).
- Tricyclic antidepressants: These are older drugs that doctors do not regularly prescribe due to potential side effects. They include amitriptyline (Elavil) and doxepin (Silenor), which can help a person sleep.
- Other types: Examples include bupropion (Wellbutrin) and mirtazapine (Remeron).
Here are some questions people often ask about Cymbalta and weight changes.
Is Cymbalta good for weight loss?
Cymbalta (duloxetine) is a drug that doctors prescribe for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Some people initially lose a small amount of weight, but taking Cymbalta long term may lead to a modest weight gain. A
What are the side effects of Cymbalta?
Common side effects of Cymbalta
Research has suggested that taking duloxetine may lead to modest weight loss at first, followed by modest weight gain. But, it does not consider the changes significant enough to outweigh the drug’s benefits if a doctor recommends taking it.
However, some people may notice weight changes due to an individual reaction, changes in lifestyle habits, or an underlying condition. Talking through any concerns with a doctor can help a person understand any possible changes in weight or other side effects.
The doctor may recommend doing tests for another condition or prescribe a different drug. They may also encourage the person to exercise more and adapt their diet to include more nutritious foods.