Can Cymbalta damage kidneys? (+5 factors)

 In this article, we will discuss whether Cymbalta causes kidney damage. We will also explore research studies linking the use of Cymbalta to renal damage and factors that may increase the risk of Cymbalta-induced kidney damage. Additionally, we will discuss the management options for kidney damage as well as alternatives to Cymbalta if it is found to cause renal damage.

Can Cymbalta damage kidneys?

Yes, Cymbalta can cause kidney damage; however, it is not a common side effect of this medication, and the risk is higher in patients with pre-existing renal impairment or using concurrent medications that can also cause kidney damage. Cymbalta is usually considered a safe medication with only mild to moderate adverse effects, including headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea (1).

It is an antidepressant medication frequently employed in the management of various health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia. It reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for regulating mood and behaviors associated with these mental disorders (1).

What does research suggest? 

Based on research, Cymbalta should be used cautiously in patients with underlying kidney or liver diseases, as it may exacerbate symptoms by causing further damage to these organs (1).

In a research study, a case was reported where Cymbalta caused acute kidney injury in a patient with underlying depression and diabetes. The patient was taking this medication at a dosage of 30 mg daily, resulting in side effects such as reduced urinary output and increased creatinine levels (2).

Healthcare providers diagnosed the patient with acute kidney injury and recommended discontinuing Cymbalta. After discontinuation, renal symptoms improved, and the patient was prescribed an alternative medication for managing depression (2).

In another research study, Cymbalta was administered to patients with renal diseases for the management of depression. The results indicated that higher concentrations of metabolites of Cymbalta were found in the plasma of patients for a longer time due to reduced elimination (3).

The study suggested adjusting the dosage of Cymbalta in patients with underlying renal impairment to prevent unwanted side effects of this medication.

What factors may increase the risk of Cymbata-induced kidney damage?

 Several risk factors may increase the risk of Cymbalta-induced renal damage. These risk factors may include the following:

Pre-existing renal damage: Individuals with pre-existing renal damage are more susceptible to severe renal impairment after using Cymbalta. Healthcare providers may recommend dosage adjustments in these patients to minimize the incidence of severe kidney damage.

Concurrent medications: Individuals taking medications like aminoglycosides, NSAIDs, or cyclosporine concurrently with Cymbalta increase the risk of drug-induced renal damage, as these medications have a higher potential to induce kidney-related side effects in individuals.

Higher dosage: Individuals taking higher dosages of Cymbalta are more likely to experience severe side effects, including kidney damage. It is advisable to start treatment with a lower dosage of Cymbalta and increase it gradually to an optimum dosage to avoid unwanted side effects.

Underlying medical conditions: Individuals with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity are at a higher risk of experiencing Cymbalta-induced kidney damage, as these medical conditions can also negatively impact the kidneys.

Unhealthy lifestyle: Unhealthy lifestyle choices, including less water intake, sedentary behavior, and excessive consumption of carbohydrates and alcohol, increase the risk of kidney damage caused by Cymbalta.

How to manage Cymbalta-induced kidney damage? 

If you experience any symptoms related to kidney damage, such as changes in urine output or color, burning during urination, or any pain in the kidneys after using Cymbalta, it is important to consult your healthcare provider immediately. They will examine your symptoms and may recommend renal function tests for an accurate diagnosis.

If Cymbalta is associated with damage to your kidneys, your healthcare provider may suggest alterations to the treatment plan, either through dosage adjustment or transitioning to another medication. Discontinuation of Cymbalta usually reduces symptoms associated with kidney damage.

However, if your condition does not improve, they may recommend pharmacological interventions for kidney damage. This may involve the use of medications that mitigate risk factors for kidney injury, such as antihypertensive drugs to control blood pressure and protect the kidneys.

Your healthcare provider may also advise adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced diet that is beneficial for kidney health. However, in severe cases of kidney failure, dialysis or kidney transplantation may be necessary.

What are the alternatives to Cymbalta for kidney damage?

If you are at risk of experiencing kidney-related problems with Cymbalta, your healthcare provider may recommend some alternative medications that might have the same therapeutic efficacy but exert a lower influence on the kidneys.

Antidepressant medications with a lower risk of causing kidney damage compared to Cymbalta may include (4,5):

  • fluoxetine
  • bupropion
  • sertraline
  • citalopram
  • venlafaxine

However, it is important to consider the efficacy and safety of these medications in a specific patient before starting the treatment. The choice of an appropriate medication should be based on the benefits of the medication in a specific patient and the overall health of the patient.

In my opinion, Cymbalta may cause kidney damage in some individuals. In cases where the risk of treatment with Cymbalta is higher than its intended benefits, it is recommended to use an alternative medication to ensure the safety of the patient.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!



Dhaliwal JS, Spurling BC, Molla M. Duloxetine. [Updated 2023 May 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:


Aktürk Esen S, Gül CB, Kahvecioğlu S, Aktaş N, Esen İ. Acute Urinary Retention and Acute Kidney Injury After Duloxetine Treatment: A Rare Case Report. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2019 May/Jun;39(3):279-281. doi: 10.1097/JCP.0000000000001020. PMID: 30908353.


Lobo ED, Heathman M, Kuan HY, Reddy S, O’Brien L, Gonzales C, Skinner M, Knadler MP. Effects of varying degrees of renal impairment on the pharmacokinetics of duloxetine: analysis of a single-dose phase I study and pooled steady-state data from phase II/III trials. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2010 May;49(5):311-21. doi: 10.2165/11319330-000000000-00000. PMID: 20384393.


Nagler EV, Webster AC, Vanholder R, Zoccali C. Antidepressants for depression in stage 3-5 chronic kidney disease: a systematic review of pharmacokinetics, efficacy and safety with recommendations by European Renal Best Practice (ERBP). Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2012 Oct;27(10):3736-45. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfs295. Epub 2012 Aug 1. PMID: 22859791.


Levy NB, Blumenfield M, Beasley CM Jr, Dubey AK, Solomon RJ, Todd R, Goodman A, Bergstrom RR. Fluoxetine in depressed patients with renal failure and in depressed patients with normal kidney function. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 1996 Jan;18(1):8-13. doi: 10.1016/0163-8343(95)00073-9. PMID: 8666216.

Find a supportive therapist who can help with Depression.

Discover the convenience of BetterHelp, an online therapy platform connecting you with licensed and accredited therapists specialized in addressing issues such as depression, anxiety, relationships, and more. Complete the assessment and find your ideal therapist within just 48 hours.


AskYourPharm is user-supported. We may earn a commission if you sign up for BetterHelp’s services after clicking through from this site