Many people have heard horror stories about gaining weight while taking Cymbalta or duloxetine, so checking the side effects through controlled clinical studies offers the facts so that you can make an informed decision. Some patients have experienced mild weight gain and weight loss, so your decision should be based on your treatment objectives, risks and benefits of using the drug and not rumors or unsubstantiated allegations.
Medical Uses of Cymbalta
Cymbalta or duloxetine affects the chemicals in the brain that cause unbalanced nerve activity that results in mood swings and depression. Called a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Cymbalta treats depression, anxiety, chronic pain from firbromyalgia and muscular and joint pains by increasing serotonin levels that make people feel happy. You should not take the drug if you are allergic to duloxetine, have taken MAO inhibitors within five days or have uncontrolled or untreated glaucoma. According to eMedTV, about 1.0 percent of people taking the drug experience weight gain and up to 2.0 percent experience weight loss.
- The drug works by increasing serotonin levels that improve mood and reduce anxiety.
- Cymbalta releases norepinephrine, which helps to reduce pain sensations.
- Physicians prescribe the drug to treat ongoing muscle and back pain, osteoarthritis and neuropathy or pain and tingling in the fingers, feet, hands, arms, legs and toes.
- Duloxetine often increases energy levels and decreases nervousness in people with various medical conditions.
- Benefits of the drug include better sleep, improved appetite and chronic pain management.
- Cymbalta treats chemotherapy-induced neuropathy caused by taking powerful drugs for cancer, HIV/AIDS and other conditions, and more than 59 percent of the patients reported relief according to a study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.
Further medical uses of Cymbalta are being tested, and the oncology study cited above is the first clinical study to find significant reduction in the effects of peripheral neuropathy for chemotherapy-induced nerve pain.
Clinical studies published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine found that Cymbalta helped diabetics cope with nerve pain associated with diabetic neuropathy, which is pain, numbness and tingling in the toes, feet, legs, arms, hands and fingers. In treatments for depression, most patients experienced minimal side effects and improved moods, and not many of the patients who experienced side effects stopped taking the drug because of its medical benefits. Common side effects include nausea, constipation, dry mouth, fatigue, sweating, loss of appetite, increased appetite and changes in energy levels.
Studies that compared weight loss or gain while taking either Cymbalta or a placebo found that some patients gained weight with short-term treatment followed by more modest gains the longer the treatment continued. Most patients had no detectable weight changes while taking the drug, and those who did reported minimal gains or losses on average.
FDA Approves Cymbalta for Treatment of Depression and Chronic Pain
Cymbalta has been used to treat major depressive disorder since 2004, so the side effects and risks are well-known. Over the years, the drug has been approved for treating diabetic peripheral neuropathy, maintenance treatments of major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and fibromyalgia, a condition that generates chronic pain. The FDA approved the drug for treating chronic musculoskeletal pain based on its safe use by more than 30 million patients and exhaustive clinical trials involving 29,000 patients. Debilitating side effects occur in less than 1.0 percent of patients, and most people reported significant improvement in mood or reduced pain.
Antidepressants and Body Weight
Many antidepressants affect body weight because happier patients eat more and enjoy increased exposure to social situations where they eat and drink. Cymbalta comes in at the lower end of those antidepressants that affect weight. Other serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as fluoxetine and sertraline seem to cause dramatic short-term weight loss. Paroxetine causes more reported cases of weight gain than Cymbalta, and long-term Cymbalta use results in a diminishing number of people reporting weight gain or weight loss. Long-term results from numerous studies put the average weight gain of Cymbalta patients at about 1.1 kilogram, which is easily lost by dieting and exercise.
Making a Well-informed Decision About Treatment
Numerous clinical studies find that Cymbalta provides relief from pain and helps to control brain chemicals that cause depression and anxiety. Most patients tolerate the drug well without significant side effects, and although some people report weight gain or weight loss, these effects also require excessive eating or not eating in addition to taking the medicine. Even those who do gain at the start of therapy tend to return to their normal weight profiles over time. If you experience dramatic weight gain or loss in the first few weeks, you can always ask your doctor to discontinue the therapy.
Given the proven benefits and small risk of weight changes, Cymbalta therapy offers people powerful results that help them take control of their lives. Continued depression could result in weight gain or loss, feelings of worthlessness, insomnia, hypersomnia, psychomotor agitation and impaired concentration. Only you can decide if the small risk of weight gain outweighs controlling the adverse symptoms of depression or whether avoiding minor side effects justifies experiencing chronic pain. Most patients conclude that the small risk justifies starting and continuing Cymbalta therapy.
1. Medical New Today: Study Finds Cymbalta(R) Was as Safe and Well-tolerated as Routine Drug Treatments for Diabetic Nerve Pain
2. New Medical: Duloxetine Drug Reduces Painful Chemotherapy-induced Peripheral Neuropathy in Majority of Patients
3. Medscape.com: Weight Change with Long-term Duloxetine Use in Chronic Painful Conditions
4. eMedTV.com: Cymbalta Weight Change
5. NCBI: Effects of the Antidepressant Duloxetine on Body Weight: Analyses of 10 Clinical Studies
6. FDA: FDA clears Cymbalta to Treat Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain