Does Cymbalta cause loss of appetite? (+5 factors)

In this article, we will discuss the loss of appetite caused by Cymbalta as a potential side effect. We will also discuss the research studies linking Cymbalta to appetite changes and the coping strategies for managing appetite changes while on Cymbalta. Additionally, we will discuss the alternative medications for various medical conditions treated by Cymbalta, without appetite-related side effects.

Does Cymbalta cause loss of appetite?

Yes, Cymbalta does cause loss of appetite. This side effect is commonly reported by individuals who use Cymbalta for managing their underlying health conditions.  However, it is important to note that the impact of Cymbalta on appetite can vary from person to person, and not everyone will experience this side effect.

Cymbalta is an antidepressant medication that is commonly known as duloxetine. It belongs to the class of serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors that work by increasing the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. The elevated levels of these neurotransmitters are responsible for the therapeutic benefits of this medication. It is frequently prescribed for the management of depression, anxiety, and fibromyalgia (1).

Generally, Cymbalta is considered a well-tolerated medication, but it can cause some mild to moderate side effects in some individuals. The most commonly reported side effects of Cymbalta may include nausea, vomiting, headaches, fatigue, and appetite changes.  

What does research suggest?

According to research, loss of appetite is a commonly reported side effect associated with the use of Cymbalta. In a research study where Cymbalta was administered at a daily dose of 60 mg for managing symptoms related to multiple sclerosis over a period of 3 months, the overall treatment was well-tolerated. However, 14% of patients reported side effects of Cymbalta, with 6% of patients specifically noting a loss of appetite (2).

In another research study involving patients with underlying diabetic neuropathy, the use of Cymbalta at dosages ranging from 60 to 120 mg remained effective for the majority of individuals. However, some common side effects of Cymbalta, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and sleep disturbances, were reported by certain patients. Notably, around 20 participants in the study reported loss of appetite after using Cymbalta (3).

What factors can influence Cymbalta-induced loss of appetite?

There are several factors that may influence the appetite changes associated with the use of Cymbalta. These factors may include:

Individual sensitivity to medication: Cymbalta’s impact on appetite can vary widely among individuals depending on their individual sensitivity to this medication. For some individuals, Cymbalta may lead to an increase in appetite, while others may experience a decrease. 

Underlying medical conditions: Individuals with underlying gastrointestinal disorders, eating disorders, and diabetes may be more susceptible to changes in appetite when using Cymbalta. These conditions, which already involve disruptions in appetite or metabolism, could interact with the medication, potentially heightening the risk of appetite changes.

High dosage: According to research, a higher dosage of Cymbalta is more likely to cause potential side effects including loss of appetite, in individuals as compared to a low dosage (4).

Concurrent medications: The concurrent use of Cymbalta with medications that also cause appetite changes as a potential side effect increases the risk of appetite changes in individuals. Examples of such medications may include phenylpropanolamine, phentermine, amphetamine, and methylphenidate.

Lifestyle: Unhealthy lifestyle factors such as poor dietary habits, less water intake, high stress, sedentary behavior, and alcohol use, may increase the risk of experiencing the side effects of Cymbalta including the loss of appetite.

What to do if Cymbalta decreases appetite?

If you experience severe loss of appetite after using Cymbalta, which is affecting your quality of life, then you should consult your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may assess your condition and determine the actual cause of your symptoms. 

If Cymbalta is responsible for the suppression of appetite and these changes are significantly impacting your well-being, your healthcare provider may consider adjusting the dosage of Cymbalta or exploring alternative medications. However, you should never adjust your medication dosage or stop taking Cymbalta without consulting your healthcare provider, as abrupt changes can have adverse effects.

Additionally, avoid the use of alcohol and caffeine while taking Cymbalta, as it may potentiate the side effects of the medication and make your condition worse.

Do not miss the follow up appointments to avoid unwanted side effects of Cymbalta. If you experience any unusual symptom that may occur while taking Cymbalta, report it to your healthcare provider immediately and always follow their directions.

What are the alternatives to Cymbalta if it reduces appetite?

Alternatives to Cymbalta that are almost equally effective in managing depression, anxiety, or any other medical condition for which Cymbalta is prescribed but without appetite-related side effects may include (5,6,7) :

  • bupropion
  • desvenlafaxine 
  • mirtazapine 
  • amitriptyline
  • trimipramine

It’s important to note that while some medications may have less impact on appetite-related changes compared to Cymbalta, they may have other side effects that are more serious than appetite suppression.

In my opinion, the choice of medication for your condition should be based on your individual needs, concurrent medications, and comorbidities. Keep an open communication with your healthcare provider regarding any changes in symptoms, side effects, or concerns. This helps to tailor the treatment plan to your specific needs.

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