Does Cymbalta cause seizures? (+5 alternatives)

In this article, we will discuss whether Cymbalta causes seizures. We will also discuss the research studies linking the use of Cymbalta to the occurrences of seizures, as well as the factors that may increase the risk of seizures while taking Cymbalta. Additionally, we will discuss the alternatives to Cymbalta if it causes seizures. 

Does Cymbalta cause seizures?

Yes, Cymbala may cause seizures. However, it is a rare side effect associated with the use of Cymbalta and it does not occur in all the individuals who take this medication. It is important to note that the likelihood of seizures increases with higher doses of Cymbalta.

Cymbalta is an antidepressant medication that is employed in the treatment of various health conditions such as anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain. The mechanism behind its therapeutic benefits may involve its interference with the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. The increased concentration of these neurotransmitters may help in the regulation of mood and behavior in individuals with underlying mental disorders (1).

While Cymbalta is a safe medication, it may cause some side effects in certain individuals, such as vomiting, drowsiness, tachycardia, and seizures (1). 

What does research suggest?

According to research findings, there exists a connection between the antidepressant medication Cymbalta and the potential occurrence of seizures. 

In a specific research study conducted to assess the efficacy of Cymbalta in the management of depression, the drug was administered at a dosage of 30 mg twice daily. The results of this study demonstrated a positive outcome, indicating an improvement in the symptoms associated with depression. However, some individuals reported experiencing seizures after the usage of Cymbalta (2). 

 In another study, Cymbalta was administered to manage depression in a patient with a history of tonic-clonic seizures. Despite being seizure-free for years before starting Cymbalta, the patient experienced an exacerbation of seizures after using the medication (3).

Additionally, it is important to note that, research studies have also reported the incidence of seizures following the discontinuation of Cymbalta (4).

What factors can increase the risk of seizures while taking Cymbalta? 

Several factors may increase the risk of seizures while taking Cymbalta. These factors may include the following: 

Individual sensitivity: Individual responses to medication can vary, with some individuals being more susceptible to the neurological side effects of Cymbalta, including seizures. Variations in how individuals metabolize and clear the drugs can also influence how the body processes and responds to the medication.

Concurrent medications: The concurrent use of certain medications such as clozapine, theophylline, ciprofloxacin, and tramadol with Cymbalta may increase the risk of seizures. This is attributed to the potential of these medications to individually cause seizures as a side effect, which may be increased by combining them with Cymbalta.

Underlying medical conditions: Individuals with certain underlying conditions or a history of seizures, epilepsy, brain injury, or stroke may have an increased likelihood of experiencing seizures after using Cymbalta.

Higher dosage: The likelihood of experiencing seizures may increase with higher dosages of Cymbalta. Adjusting dosage based on individual patient characteristics is crucial in minimizing the risk of seizures associated with the use of Cymbalta.

Age and gender: The risk of seizures associated with Cymbalta use may be influenced by age and gender. Elderly individuals may be more susceptible to adverse effects, including seizures. Moreover, some research suggests that males may be more prone to seizures as compared to females (5). 

What to do if Cymbalta causes seizures?

If you experience seizures after using Cymbalta, it is crucial to consult your healthcare provider promptly. Your healthcare provider will assess the actual cause of your symptoms and take necessary actions for seizure management.

If Cymbalta is associated with the occurrence of seizures, your healthcare provider may adjust the dosage or recommend discontinuation of the medication based on the severity of the seizures. However, the decision to discontinue Cymbalta should be based on the overall risks and benefits of the treatment.

If discontinuation is deemed necessary, it should be done gradually under the guidance of your medical professional. Abruptly stopping the medication may lead to withdrawal effects that can worsen your condition.

Additionally, your healthcare provider may prescribe additional medications for seizure management, such as diazepam, lorazepam, valproic acid, and phenytoin. However, the choice of a specific medication for seizures should be based on the type of seizure and the overall condition of the patient.

What are the alternatives to Cymbalta if it causes seizures?

While seizures are not commonly reported with Cymbalta, if they significantly impact your quality of life, discontinuation may be recommended by your healthcare provider. Alternative medications that are less likely to cause neurological side effects may include (6,7):

  • citalopram 
  • milnacipran
  • fluoxetine
  • tranylcypromine
  • trazodone

It’s important to note that while these medications have a lower likelihood, they may still rarely induce seizures in individuals with heightened sensitivity. Therefore, it’s crucial to carefully weigh the risks and benefits of each medication before use.

In my opinion, seizures caused by Cymbalta are infrequent, and individuals do not commonly report this side effect in clinical settings. Nevertheless, there is always a risk of this side effect, especially in individuals with underlying risk factors.

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