Does Cymbalta contain acetaminophen? (+3 differences)

In this article, we will discuss whether Cymbalta contains acetaminophen. We will also discuss the key differences between Cymbalta and acetaminophen including their mechanism of action, therapeutic uses, and side effects.

Does Cymbalta contain acetaminophen?

No, Cymbalta does not contain acetaminophen. Cymbalta is a brand name for an antidepressant drug known as duloxetine. The typical formulation of Cymbalta contains duloxetine hydrochloride as an active ingredient whereas different binders, fillers, diluents, and disintegrants may be added to the formulations as inactive ingredients or excipients. 

On the other hand, acetaminophen is a completely different drug from duloxetine. It is an analgesic medication and one of the well-known formulations containing acetaminophen is Tylenol. Tylenol is a brand name for various products that incorporate acetaminophen as the primary active component. 

How is Cymbalta different from acetaminophen?

Cymbalta is an entirely different medication from acetaminophen. The major differences between Cymbalta and acetaminophen may include their mechanism of action, therapeutic benefits, and side effects.

Mechanism of action

Cymbalta belongs to the class of serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor antidepressant medications. It works by interfering with the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. The increased levels of these neurotransmitters are involved in the regulation of mood and behavior in individuals with underlying mental disorders (1). 

On the other hand, acetaminophen works by selectively inhibiting the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX), primarily in the central nervous system. This inhibition reduces the synthesis of prostaglandins, associated with pain and fever. Unlike NSAIDs, acetaminophen’s COX inhibition is believed to be more central, contributing to its analgesic and antipyretic effects. Additionally, it may play a role in inhibiting COX in peripheral tissues (3).

Therapeutic uses

The therapeutic uses of Cymbalta and acetaminophen are different from each other. Cymbalta is frequently prescribed in the management of various medical conditions such as (1),

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • fibromyalgia
  • joint pain
  • muscle aches
  • chronic back pain
  • obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • panic disorders
  • social anxiety

On the other hand, Acetaminophen is commonly utilized in the management of pain associated with various conditions, as well as it helps to lower elevated body temperature in the presence of fever. The following are the common indications for the use of this medication (4):

  • headaches
  • dental pain
  • fever
  • muscle ache
  • pain related to osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • common cold and flu

It’s important to note that while acetaminophen is a safe medication, its use should always be in accordance with recommended dosages, and individuals should be mindful of potential interactions with other medications or pre-existing health conditions.

Side effects

Cymbalta is generally considered a safe and tolerated medication. It is less likely to cause serious side effects even at higher dosages. Some of the mild to moderate side effects of Cymbalta, that may occur in individuals taking this medication may include (2),

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • dry mouth
  • sleep disturbances
  • appetite changes
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • tachycardia
  • electrolyte disturbances
  • agitation
  • confusion

Acetaminophen, on the other hand, is generally well-tolerated when used as directed. Its side effects are primarily associated with high or prolonged doses, potentially leading to liver damage, allergic reactions, and gastrointestinal issues (4).

Can you combine Cymbalta with acetaminophen?

Combining Cymbalta and acetaminophen is generally considered safe when taken according to the instructions. These medications work differently and usually do not interact negatively with each other.

However, it is important to take into account one’s individual health conditions, possible interactions with other medications, and the total dosage of acetaminophen to avoid exceeding recommended limits.

High doses of acetaminophen can lead to liver damage, and combining it with Cymbalta should be done with caution, especially for those with pre-existing liver conditions.

However, It is always recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before combining medications and inform them of all the medications, including over-the-counter ones, that you are taking. This ensures personalized advice based on your health profile and helps prevent potential adverse effects.

To my knowledge, the formulation of Cymbalta does not contain acetaminophen. However, in clinical practice, healthcare professionals often prescribe a combination of Cymbalta and acetaminophen for conditions requiring both antidepressant effects and pain relief.

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


Wernicke JF, Gahimer J, Yalcin I, Wulster-Radcliffe M, Viktrup L. Safety and adverse event profile of duloxetine. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2005 Nov;4(6):987-93. doi: 10.1517/14740338.4.6.987. PMID: 16255658.


Aronoff DM, Oates JA, Boutaud O. New insights into the mechanism of action of acetaminophen: Its clinical pharmacologic characteristics reflect its inhibition of the two prostaglandin H2 synthases. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Jan;79(1):9-19. doi: 10.1016/j.clpt.2005.09.009. PMID: 16413237.

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