Cymbalta (duloxetine) is a brand-name drug that’s prescribed for certain conditions, including depression. It comes as an oral capsule that’s typically swallowed once or twice per day. Its dosage can vary depending on the condition it’s prescribed to treat.
Specifically, Cymbalta is approved to treat the following conditions in adults:
- generalized anxiety disorder
- major depressive disorder (also known as clinical depression)
- chronic musculoskeletal pain
- pain caused by diabetic neuropathy (a type of nerve damage)
It’s also approved to treat the following conditions in children:
- generalized anxiety disorder in children ages 7 years and older
- fibromyalgia in children ages 13 years and older
Cymbalta is an antidepressant that belongs to a drug class called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. Cymbalta is available in a generic version called duloxetine.
Keep reading for specific information about the dosage of Cymbalta, including its strengths and how to take it. For a comprehensive look at Cymbalta, see this article.
Note: This article describes typical dosages for Cymbalta provided by the drug’s manufacturer. When taking this drug, always follow the dosage prescribed by your doctor.
Below are Cymbalta dosages that are commonly used for the conditions the drug is prescribed to treat.
Cymbalta comes as oral capsules.
Cymbalta capsules are available in three strengths: 20 milligrams (mg), 30 mg, and 60 mg.
Typically, your doctor will start you on a low dosage. Then, they’ll adjust it over time to reach the amount that’s right for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.
The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
Dosage for chronic musculoskeletal pain
Chronic musculoskeletal pain is long-term pain in the muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, or nerves. Examples of this type of pain include back pain and arthritis pain.
The recommended dosage of Cymbalta for chronic musculoskeletal pain in adults is 60 mg once per day.
The typical starting dosage of Cymbalta is 30 mg once per day for the first week. If your condition responds well to the medication, your doctor will likely increase your dosage to 60 mg once per day.
The maximum recommended dosage for this condition is 60 mg per day.
Dosage for fibromyalgia
Cymbalta is approved to treat fibromyalgia in adults. The dosage of Cymbalta for this condition is the same as the dosage for chronic musculoskeletal pain. See the “Dosage for chronic musculoskeletal pain” section above.
Dosage for diabetic nerve pain
The recommended Cymbalta dosage for diabetic neuropathy in adults is 60 mg once per day. Doses higher than 60 mg are not recommended for diabetic neuropathy.
Dosage for anxiety
The recommended dosage of Cymbalta for generalized anxiety disorder depends on your age.
For adults younger than age 65 years, the recommended dosage is 60 mg once per day. Most people can start with this dosage. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a starting dosage of 30 mg once per day for the first week. Then, they’ll increase your dosage to 60 mg once per day.
For adults ages 65 years and older, the recommended starting dosage is 30 mg once per day for 2 weeks. If you don’t have bothersome side effects, your doctor may increase your dosage to 60 mg once per day.
In adults of any age, the maximum Cymbalta dosage for anxiety is 120 mg per day. However, in clinical studies, doses higher than 60 mg weren’t found to be more effective than 60-mg doses.
For children, see the “Dosage for children” section below.
Dosage for depression
The recommended Cymbalta starting dosage for depression is 40 mg to 60 mg per day.
For the 40-mg dosage, you’ll likely take 20 mg twice per day. For the 60-mg dosage, you’ll likely take 30 mg twice per day or 60 mg once per day.
Most people can start with this dosage. However, in some cases, your doctor may decide to start having you take 30 mg once per day for a week before increasing your dosage.
If needed, your doctor may increase your dosage to a maximum of 120 mg per day to treat depression. However, in clinical studies, doses higher than 60 mg weren’t found to be more effective than 60-mg doses.
Dosage for older adults
In most cases, the dosage of Cymbalta prescribed for older adults is the same as that for adults younger than age 65 years.
However, for generalized anxiety disorder, adults ages 65 years and older should start treatment with a lower dosage than younger adults. For more information, see the “Dosage for anxiety” section above.
Dosage for children
Cymbalta is used to treat fibromyalgia and generalized anxiety disorder in children. The pediatric dose for these conditions is typically lower than the adult dose.
For fibromyalgia in children ages 13 years and older, the recommended starting dosage is 30 mg once per day. If your child doesn’t have bothersome side effects, their doctor may increase their dosage to 60 mg once per day if needed.
For generalized anxiety disorder in children ages 7 years and older, the recommended starting dosage is 30 mg once per day for 2 weeks. If your child doesn’t have bothersome side effects, their doctor may increase their dosage to 60 mg once per day if needed. The recommended Cymbalta dosage range for children is 30 mg to a maximum of 60 mg once per day.
Cymbalta is meant to be used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Cymbalta is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term.
Exactly how long you’ll take Cymbalta for depends on the condition it’s treating and how well that condition responds to the medication.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Cymbalta’s dosage.
Is Cymbalta prescribed in 90-mg and 120-mg doses?
Yes, Cymbalta can be prescribed in 90-milligram (mg) and 120-mg doses. These doses may be used for depression or anxiety. However, they’re not common because clinical studies haven’t shown them to be more effective than the 60-mg dose.
Cymbalta isn’t prescribed in 90-mg or 120-mg doses for any other conditions.
For more information about the dosage of Cymbalta that’s right for you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
When would my doctor recommend the maximum dosage of Cymbalta?
Your doctor may increase your Cymbalta dosage to 120 mg per day for depression or anxiety if lower dosages haven’t worked for you. If the maximum dosage doesn’t work for you, your doctor will likely switch you to a different treatment.
The highest dosage of Cymbalta for depression or anxiety is 120 mg per day. However, this dosage isn’t typically prescribed.
For treating fibromyalgia, chronic musculoskeletal pain, and diabetic nerve pain, dosages above 60 mg per day are not recommended. In clinical studies, the 60-mg doses didn’t show any additional benefit for these conditions. Higher doses of Cymbalta are also associated with more side effects.
If you have questions about the maximum dosage of Cymbalta, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
What’s considered a low dose of Cymbalta?
A low dose of Cymbalta is 30 mg. A dosage of 30 mg once per day is often prescribed when starting treatment with Cymbalta. Taking a low starting dose can help your body get used to the medication and may help you avoid side effects.
A 30-mg dose is typically prescribed in children. If needed, your child’s doctor may increase their dose.
A low dose may also be used if you take certain other medications. If you take other medications, talk with your doctor before starting treatment with Cymbalta.
If you miss a dose of Cymbalta, take your missed dose as soon as possible. Then, continue with your usual dosing schedule. However, if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose as scheduled.
You should not take two doses at once to make up for a missed dose. This may increase your risk of side effects.
To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or using a timer. You could also download a reminder app on your phone.
The dosage of Cymbalta that your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:
- the condition you’re taking Cymbalta to treat and its severity
- other medical conditions you may have
- other medications you take
- your age
Your doctor may adjust your treatment by increasing or lowering your Cymbalta dosage depending on:
- how your condition responds to Cymbalta
- side effects you may have with Cymbalta
You should not adjust your dosage of Cymbalta on your own. Your doctor will help determine what dosage is right for you.
You should take Cymbalta as instructed by your doctor. Cymbalta comes as an oral capsule. You may take your dose with or without food.
If you take Cymbalta once per day, you can take it at any time. However, try to take it around the same time every day.
If you take Cymbalta twice per day, you should take it in the morning and evening. However, try to take your doses around the same time every day.
Cymbalta has the potential to be misused. Misuse refers to using a drug differently than how it was prescribed. This can include taking Cymbalta more often, in a different way, or in a higher dosage than prescribed.
Cymbalta has a potential risk of misuse because it affects brain chemicals that influence mood, behavior, and feelings of reward. Although misuse of Cymbalta is rare, it can occur.
Misusing a drug can cause side effects and lead to overdose. It can also lead to drug dependence and addiction. With drug dependence, your body becomes reliant on a drug to function like usual. As a result, you may have withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. (Withdrawal symptoms are side effects that can occur when you stop taking a drug that your body has become dependent on.)
With drug addiction, you find it difficult to stop misusing a drug, even though it may be causing harm.
Cymbalta isn’t known to be addictive. However, it can cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it. For this reason, your Cymbalta dosage should be tapered down gradually when you stop taking it. For more information, see the “Cymbalta and withdrawal and dependence” section below.
If you have concerns about how to take Cymbalta safely, talk with your doctor. They can help you manage your risk of misusing the drug.
If you use more Cymbalta than your doctor prescribes, you may develop serious side effects.
It’s important that you don’t use more Cymbalta than your doctor advises.
Symptoms of an overdose
Symptoms of a Cymbalta overdose can include:
- fast heartbeat
- flushed skin
- body tremors
- muscle stiffness
- loss of coordination
- hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t real)
If you take more than the recommended amount of Cymbalta
Call your doctor right away if you believe you’ve taken too much Cymbalta. Another option is to call America’s Poison Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. If you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.
Cymbalta can cause physical dependence.* With physical dependence, your body becomes reliant on a drug to function like usual. As a result, you may have withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it.
Withdrawal symptoms are side effects that can occur when you stop taking a drug that your body has become dependent on. Examples of Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms may include:
- pins and needles or electric shock-like sensations
- tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in your ears)
- feeling uneasy, irritable, or agitated
- mood shifts
- trouble sleeping
To help prevent withdrawal symptoms, you should not stop taking Cymbalta suddenly. If you and your doctor agree that you should stop treatment, your doctor will explain how to reduce your dosage gradually over time. This is called a drug taper. It allows your body to gradually readjust to not having the medication. The length of time this can take varies from person to person.
* Note that dependence is not the same as addiction. See “Cymbalta and misuse” above to learn more about this.
The dosages in this article are typical dosages provided by the drug manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Cymbalta for you, they’ll prescribe the dosage that’s right for you. Always follow the dosage that your doctor prescribes for you.
As with any drug, never change your dosage of Cymbalta without your doctor’s recommendation. If you have questions about the dosage of Cymbalta that’s right for you, talk with your doctor.
Besides learning about dosage, you may want other information about Cymbalta. These additional articles might be helpful to you:
- More about Cymbalta. For information about other aspects of Cymbalta, refer to this article.
- Side effects. To learn about the side effects of Cymbalta, see this article. You can also look at the Cymbalta prescribing information.
- Drug comparison. To find out how Cymbalta compares with other drugs, refer to these sections on Lexapro and Effexor XR.
- Interactions. For more information about Cymbalta’s interactions, see this article.
- Details on your condition. For details on your condition, see our:
- list of fibromyalgia articles and this article on Cymbalta for fibromyalgia
- diabetes hub
- mental health hub
- lists of depression articles and anxiety articles
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.