Can Cymbalta cause IBS? (+3 factors)

This article will discuss whether Cymalta causes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). We will also discuss the research studies on the link between Cymbalata and IBS. Additionally, we will discuss the factors that may increase the risk of developing IBS while taking Cymbalta and the treatment strategies for IBS. 

Can Cymbalta cause IBS?

No, Cymbalta does not cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Instead, Cymbalta can be used in the management of IBS. 

Cymbalta is an antidepressant medication that is frequently employed in the management of various health conditions such as depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain. The mechanism behind its therapeutic benefits may involve its interference with the neurotransmitters in the brain.

It increases the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain, which are responsible for the regulation of mood and behavior in individuals with underlying mental disorders (1).

 Cymbalta may cause certain mild to moderate side effects in individuals such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, upset stomach, appetite changes, and weight changes. However, it is not linked to the development of irritable bowel syndrome. 

What does research suggest?

While there is no research evidence directly linking the use of Cymbalta to the development of IBS, several studies have explored its potential role in managing various symptoms associated with this gastrointestinal disorder.

In a research study, Cymbalta was administered to manage IBS symptoms in patients without any mental disorder, at a daily dosage of 60 mg. The results demonstrated the effectiveness of Cymbalta in managing pain, bowel movements, and irritability associated with IBS. However, due to its adverse effect of constipation, some patients discontinued the medication (2).

In another study, Cymbalta was used for managing IBS symptoms in patients with underlying anxiety. The study aimed to evaluate the potential dual benefits of Cymbalta by addressing both anxiety-related symptoms and those associated with IBS.

The results demonstrated the effectiveness of Cymbalta in managing not only the symptoms of anxiety but also the specific symptoms related to IBS (3).

What factors may increase the risk of IBS while taking Cymbalta?

Several factors may increase the risk of the development of IBS while taking Cymbalta. However, these factors may not be related to Cymbalta. Such factors may include:

Underlying health conditions: Certain underlying health conditions may heighten the risk of developing IBS while using Cymbalta such as Crohn’s disease and gastroenteritis. However, it’s essential to emphasize that research studies have indicated the effectiveness of Cymbalta in managing IBS symptoms in some individuals.

Therefore, employing Cymbalta in patients with underlying IBS may offer additional benefits to those undergoing mental health treatment with this medication.

Concurrent medications: The concurrent use of medications such as antibiotics or NSAIDs that may cause irritable bowel syndrome or its associated symptoms as potential side effects may increase the risk of developing IBS while taking Cymbalta. In such cases, the discontinuation of these medications may be proven effective for the management of IBS. 

Lifestyle factors: Several lifestyle factors have been identified that may contribute to the development or exacerbation of symptoms while taking Cymbalta. These factors may include irregular eating patterns, stress, lack of physical activity, less water intake, insufficient sleep, and alcohol consumption. 

It is important to note that while these factors may increase the risk of development of irritable bowel syndrome while taking Cymbalta, these factors may not be necessarily linked to Cymbalta use. Your healthcare provider may identify the risk factors of your IBS to effectively manage your symptoms. 

What to do if IBS occurs while taking Cymbalta?

If you experience any symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, while taking  Cymbalta, you should consult your healthcare provider. They may assess your condition and determine the cause of your symptoms. If the symptoms you’re experiencing are linked to the use of Cymbalta, they may consider adjusting the dosage or discontinuing the medication based on the severity of your symptoms. 

However, if the underlying risk factors are responsible for your symptoms, your healthcare provider may eradicate those factors first to ensure the safety of your treatment. 

In some cases, the administration of Cymbalta for mental disorders may prove beneficial to managing the symptoms of underlying IBS as well. However, if this medication does not improve your symptoms, your healthcare provider may prescribe specific medications for managing irritable bowel syndrome and its associated symptoms. 

What are the treatment options for IBS?

The treatment strategies for irritable bowel syndrome may involve a combination of lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, and, in some cases, medications.

Medications: Medications for irritable bowel syndrome are used for symptomatic relief in individuals with IBS. Medications such as dicyclomine may help to relax the muscles in the digestive tract, potentially reducing abdominal pain and cramping associated with IBS.

In cases where abdominal pain is a significant symptom, a healthcare provider may prescribe an antidepressant like amitriptyline to help manage pain and improve symptoms.

Additionally, for individuals with IBS who experience constipation as a predominant symptom, a healthcare provider may recommend a specific type of laxative, such as polyethylene glycol, to help regulate bowel movements.

Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle modifications including, gradually increasing dietary fiber, stress management exercises, adequate water intake, and reducing the intake of spicy food can contribute to the management of symptoms of IBS.

To my knowledge, Cymbalta does not cause IBS, instead, it may be recommended to manage IBS symptoms in individuals with underlying mental disorders. It’s important for individuals with IBS to work closely with their healthcare providers to develop a personalized treatment plan. 

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Dhaliwal JS, Spurling BC, Molla M. Duloxetine. 2023 May 29. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31747213.


Brennan BP, Fogarty KV, Roberts JL, Reynolds KA, Pope HG Jr, Hudson JI. Duloxetine in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: an open-label pilot study. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2009 Jul;24(5):423-8. doi: 10.1002/hup.1038. PMID: 19548294.


Kaplan A, Franzen MD, Nickell PV, Ransom D, Lebovitz PJ. An open-label trial of duloxetine in patients with irritable bowel syndrome and comorbid generalized anxiety disorder. Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2014 Jan;18(1):11-5. doi: 10.3109/13651501.2013.838632. Epub 2013 Sep 20. PMID: 23980534.

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