Does Cymbalta cause apathy? (+3 factors)

In this article, we will discuss whether Cymbalta causes apathy. We will also discuss the factors that may increase the risk of Cymbalta-induced apathy. Additionally, we will discuss the management tips for apathy and the alternatives to Cymbalta if it causes apathy.

Does Cymbalta cause apathy?

Cymbalta may rarely cause apathy. While instances of apathy as a side effect are infrequent, studies indicate that Cymbalta demonstrates efficacy in addressing and managing apathetic symptoms related to conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Cymbalta is an antidepressant medication, that is employed in the management of various health conditions such as depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain. It reduces the sadness and apathy associated with depression by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain (1). 

While it is usually a well-tolerated medication, it may cause certain side effects in some individuals such as nausea, agitation, irritability, and dizziness (1). 

What does research suggest?

While there is limited research specifically focused on the apathy caused by Cymbalta, available studies suggest that Cymbalta demonstrates effectiveness in managing apathy associated with various mental disorders such as depression and anxiety.

A research study reported that Cymbalta effectively managed apathy and sadness associated with depression in 31% of patients undergoing treatment with this medication (4).

In another study examining the tolerability of Cymbalta in patients with depression and Parkinson’s disease, the findings revealed that Cymbalta was effective in addressing symptoms, including apathy linked to depression. Moreover, the medication was well-tolerated by the participants in the study (2).

Cymbalta may induce apathy when used concurrently with other antidepressants, as evidenced by a research study reporting that a patient experienced symptoms of apathy after using Cymbalta concurrently with Lexapro and Remeron (3).

It is crucial to note that this observed side effect may be associated with the interaction of Cymbalta with other medications, rather than Cymbalta alone.

What factors can increase the risk of Cymbalta-induced apathy?

While the incidence of apathy induced by Cymbalta is low, it may cause apathy in some individuals with underlying risk factors such as:

Individual sensitivity: Individuals vary in their response to medications due to genetic, metabolic, and physiological differences. Some individuals may be more sensitive to the effects of Cymbalta, including potential side effects like apathy.

Concurrent medications: Cymbalta may interact with other medications, potentially amplifying or mitigating its effects. Concurrent use of certain medications, especially other antidepressants or drugs affecting the central nervous system, can influence the risk and severity of side effects. 

Pre-existing medical conditions: Apathy may manifest in patients with pre-existing mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, and, while it may be related to these disorders, it is not directly associated with the use of Cymbalta.

Individuals with these underlying conditions may exhibit heightened susceptibility to specific side effects of Cymbalta, including apathy

What to do if Cymbalta causes apathy?

Cymbalta can rarely cause apathy as a side effect. However, if you experience this side effect, you must communicate with your healthcare provider right away. Apathy can have a significant impact on your well-being and daily life, so addressing it early is crucial for effective management.

Your healthcare provider will be able to evaluate the severity of your symptoms and explore appropriate adjustments to your treatment plan. This may include changes to your medication dosage, alternative medications, or complementary therapies.

It’s important to note that apathy can sometimes be influenced by factors other than medication, such as stress, lifestyle factors, or the presence of other medical conditions. Your healthcare provider may assess these potential contributors as well.

Having an open discussion about your experiences will enable your healthcare team to tailor your treatment and provide the necessary support for your mental health. 

What are the alternatives to Cymbalta if it causes apathy?

If Cymbalta causes apathy or undesirable side effects, your healthcare provider may consider alternative medications. Some alternative options that your healthcare provider may consider include (4,5):

  • desvenlafaxine
  • venlafaxine
  • bupropion
  • phenelzine
  • amitriptyline

Your healthcare provider will evaluate your symptoms and medical history before suggesting an alternative treatment. It’s crucial to work together with your healthcare team to develop a treatment plan that effectively addresses your symptoms with minimal side effects.

Never modify your medication routine without first consulting your healthcare provider as it may worsen your symptoms.

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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.


Takahashi M, Tabu H, Ozaki A, Hamano T, Takeshima T; REBORN study group. Antidepressants for Depression, Apathy, and Gait Instability in Parkinson’s Disease: A Multicenter Randomized Study. Intern Med. 2019 Feb 1;58(3):361-368. doi: 10.2169/internalmedicine.1359-18. Epub 2018 Aug 24. PMID: 30146591; PMCID: PMC6395136.


Kim HG, Koo BH, Lee SW, Cheon EJ. Apathy syndrome in a patient previously treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for depression. Yeungnam Univ J Med. 2019 Sep;36(3):249-253. doi: 10.12701/yujm.2019.00150. Epub 2019 Mar 15. PMID: 31620640; PMCID: PMC6784646.


Alvarez-Mon MA, García-Montero C, Fraile-Martinez O, Quintero J, Fernandez-Rojo S, Mora F, Gutiérrez-Rojas L, Molina-Ruiz RM, Lahera G, Álvarez-Mon M, Ortega MA. Current Opinions about the Use of Duloxetine: Results from a Survey Aimed at Psychiatrists. Brain Sci. 2023 Feb 15;13(2):333. doi: 10.3390/brainsci13020333. PMID: 36831876; PMCID: PMC9953910.


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