Cymbalta is the brand name for the drug duloxetine. It belongs to a class of drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SNRIs work by changing the balance of the chemical messengers serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain. This can lead to improved mood or pain relief.
Cymbalta is most often prescribed to treat depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and pain caused by diabetes-related nerve damage in the arms and legs. It’s also prescribed to treat chronic musculoskeletal pain and fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder.
Many people say their weight changes after they begin taking an SNRI like Cymbalta. This may be true. However, research doesn’t support that SNRIs are the cause.
According to Cymbalta’s prescribing information, people who took the drug actually showed decreased appetite more frequently than people who took a placebo. Additionally, results from a study published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment also indicated that SNRIs like Cymbalta tended to cause decreased appetite and weight loss.
In analyses of 10 studies that investigated Cymbalta and body weight changes, the authors found that most people experienced weight loss after taking the antidepressant. However, the study also found that people who take the drug for a long time might experience weight gain.
What’s true for one person on the antidepressant may not be true for you. Still, the odds are in your favor. According to a 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study, weight gain that occurs in people taking antidepressants is usually gradual and modest. Lifestyle changes could help negate any weight gain that may occur while you take the medication.
While more evidence may be needed to decide Cymbalta’s effect on weight, there are some side effects that are known for sure. The most common side effects of Cymbalta include:
- dry mouth
- difficulty swallowing
- decreased vision or blurring
- loss of appetite
- excessive sweating
You may experience symptoms of withdrawal if you stop taking the medication. These symptoms may include:
- nervousness and irritability
- excessive sweating
While evidence seems to suggest that Cymbalta can affect your weight, just exactly how it does is unclear. If your doctor prescribes Cymbalta for you and you are concerned about changes in your weight, talk to them. Ask about lifestyle changes you could make to combat this potential side effect.
Your doctor may suggest you become more physically active to prevent or reduce weight gain. On the other hand, your doctor may recommend additional calories if you notice that you’re losing weight but your doctor think you shouldn’t be. A new meal plan could help combat your decreased appetite and prevent unintended weight loss.