Understanding Cymbalta (Duloxetine)
Cymbalta is the brand name for Duloxetine, a prescription Antidepressant that belongs to a class of medication called Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). Cymbalta is used to treat a variety of different problems, most notably generalized anxiety disorder and depression. It is also prescribed to help relieve nerve pain associated with diabetes and ongoing pain due to medical conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia; use that contradicts prescribed instructions may constitute Cymbalta abuse. Cymbalta works by helping restore the natural balance of mood and pain-related chemical neurotransmitters in the brain. In 2020, Cymbalta was the 27th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States.
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Cymbalta Effects And Abuse
Taking Cymbalta can improve mood, sleep, appetite, and energy levels in consumers while simultaneously decreasing nervousness. In addition to these benefits, the medication can produce a variety of negative and potentially harmful effects as well. These side effects can range from mild to severe and include any of the following:
- Dry mouth
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Low blood pressure
- Weight loss
- Excessive sweating
- Skin rash
Other, less common side effects include sexual dysfunction, colitis, and liver damage. These are rare and usually only occur in chronic, long-term users. Liver damage is more likely in individuals that mix the medication with alcohol, which is why doctors recommend avoiding alcohol while taking Cymbalta.
The risk of experiencing these negative side effects is also increased when the drug is abused. Drug abuse constitutes any situation in which the medication is used either without a prescription or not as explicitly prescribed. Although Cymbalta doesn’t produce a euphoric high like the majority of other drugs, people still misuse it due to its calming and mood-boosting effects. Many individuals will often crush the drug and mix it with liquid in order to feel the effects immediately, bypassing the extended time release capsule. Diverted use such as this increases the risk of serious complications such as abdominal cramping, convulsions, and severe skin reactions.
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Signs Of Cymbalta Addiction
Like the majority of Antidepressants, Cymbalta is generally considered to be non-addictive; however, the drug can cause physical dependence. Those that try to reduce their dose or stop taking Cymbalta altogether will start to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which can cause some people to keep taking the drug despite wanting to quit. This leads to a cycle of addiction and dependence where individuals build up a tolerance and effectively take more and more of the medication in an effort to prevent the debilitating effects of withdrawal.
Regardless of the reason behind why someone is misusing Cymbalta, whether it be to prevent withdrawal or simply to experience the pleasurable effects of the medication, taking high doses of the drug is dangerous. Some telling signs of Cymbalta abuse include:
- Slurred speech
- Faking symptoms to get Cymbalta prescriptions
- Bloodshot eyes
- Noticeable weight loss
- Financial problems
- Sudden changes in physical appearance and hygiene
- Reduced appetite
- Sleeping too much or too little
Someone who is addicted to or dependent on Cymbalta should never attempt to quit taking the medication “cold turkey” or on their own due to the severity of withdrawal. Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms are so common in users that physicians have coined their own term for the condition: Cymbalta Discontinuation Syndrome. In addition to the physical effects of withdrawal such as nausea and migraines, many people that stop taking the drug experience negative psychological symptoms like rebound anxiety and depression, insomnia, and even suicidal thoughts. For this reason, detox from Cymbalta should always be performed under the supervision of medical professionals that can monitor vital signs and prescribe any medications necessary to ease the particularly debilitating symptoms of withdrawal. Symptoms typically only last a couple of weeks, although for some people it can take two to three months for symptoms to totally disappear.
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Cymbalta Abuse Statistics
Roughly 50% of people who use Cymbalta for any length of time develop withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing use.
More than 40 different types of adverse effects have been reported from Cymbalta use, including suicide attempts and hepatic disorders.
There have been over 17 million prescriptions written for Cymbalta since the drug appeared on the market in 2006.
Get Help Today For Cymbalta Addiction
Antidepressants such as Cymbalta can be an effective way to manage certain mental health conditions; however, use of these drugs can also result in abuse and physical dependence. If you think that you or a loved one may be addicted to Cymbalta, contact a treatment provider today to learn about potential treatment options.
Ashish Bhatt, MD, MRO
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Learn about Dr. Ashish Bhatt
Dr. Bhatt has been Addiction Center's Medical Content Director for more than three years, providing his expertise to ensure quality and accuracy.
Doctor of Addiction Medicine
Expert in adult and child psychiatry
Over 20 years of professional experience