Does Cymbalta help nightmares? (+5 alternatives)

In this article, we will discuss the role of Cymbalta in the reduction of nightmares. We will also explore research studies suggesting a link between Cymbalta and the reduction of nightmares in individuals with mental disorders. Additionally, we will discuss alternatives to Cymbalta if it fails to manage nightmares in individuals.

Does Cymbalta help nightmares?

Yes, Cymbalta may help with nightmares. However, it is not primarily prescribed for the reduction of nightmares in individuals. It deals with the nightmares and vivid dreams associated with certain mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cymbalta is essentially an antidepressant medication used in the management of symptoms of various health conditions such as depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain (1).

Along with its therapeutic effects, it might cause some side effects in some individuals, such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, and weight changes. Some studies have also reported the occurrence of nightmares in individuals taking Cymbalta (1).

What does research suggest?

According to research, Cymbalta can help in the management of nightmares associated with various mental health disorders.

In a research study, Cymbalta was prescribed for the management of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in patients at a dosage of 120 mg daily. The treatment was continued for a period of 2 to 3 months, and the effectiveness of Cymbalta in the management of nightmares associated with PTSD was reported (2).

In another study, Cymbalta was prescribed to a patient with PTSD along with antipsychotic medications. The results showed improvements in the symptoms of PTSD along with improvements in sleep and the reduction of nightmares and vivid dreams (3).

What to do if Cymbalta fails to manage nightmares?

The improvement of symptoms with Cymbalta may take a few days. You should remain patient during the initial phase of treatment. However, if Cymbalta does not improve your symptoms or fails to manage nightmares even after weeks of treatment, you should consult your healthcare provider. They will examine your symptoms and determine the actual cause of treatment failure.

In some cases, a lower dosage of Cymbalta is prescribed in the initial period when the risk of side effects is higher and the body is adjusting to the medication. After some time, the dosage is increased gradually to optimal levels to show therapeutic effects.

However, if even the higher dosage of Cymbalta is ineffective in managing your symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend alternative treatment options for your condition.

They may suggest discontinuation of Cymbalta and transitioning to an alternative medication. However, do not switch to another medication without consulting your doctor, as it may worsen your condition.

What are the alternatives to Cymbalta for managing nightmares?

If Cymbalta fails to manage your mental condition and the associated nightmares, your healthcare provider may recommend an alternative medication that is suitable for your underlying mental disorder and the nightmares. These medications may include the following (4):

  • trazodone
  • clonidine
  • prazosin
  • fluvoxamine
  • gabapentin.

However, it is important to note that the selection of an appropriate medication should be based on your overall health condition, the therapeutic effects of the medication, as well as the side effects associated with these medications.

You should always inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you’re taking, as well as your symptoms, so they can choose an appropriate medication specific to your individual needs.

What are the non-pharmacological approaches for managing nightmares?

Nightmares can be a distressing experience, and non-pharmacological approaches can be effective in managing them. Some of the management tips for nightmares may include: 

  • Psychological counseling may also offer a supportive and therapeutic environment aimed at reducing the frequency and intensity of nightmares.


  • Behavioral therapies are a popular option that can help with sleep disturbances and nightmares caused by post-traumatic stress disorders.


  • Relaxation techniques, such as stress-alleviating exercises, can also be helpful in managing nightmares in some individuals.


  • It is advisable to avoid caffeine consumption in the hours leading up to bedtime as it can cause sleep disruptions and subsequent nightmares.


  • Creating a conducive sleep environment by reducing noise levels and maintaining an optimal temperature can enhance sleep quality and reduce the occurrence of nightmares during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

In my opinion, while research has reported cases where Cymbalta is proven effective for managing nightmares in patients with PTSD, its use for managing nightmares without any underlying mental health disorder should be avoided. It may exacerbate symptoms in some individuals.

Always consult your healthcare provider if you experience unbearable nightmares, and refrain from self-medicating.

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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.


Walderhaug E, Kasserman S, Aikins D, Vojvoda D, Nishimura C, Neumeister A. Effects of duloxetine in treatment-refractory men with posttraumatic stress disorder. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2010 Mar;43(2):45-9. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1237694. Epub 2009 Dec 15. PMID: 20108200.


Holzinger B, Nierwetberg F, Klösch G. Case Report: Why Sleep and Dream Related Psychological Treatments, Such as Sleepcoaching (According to Holzinger&Klösch) and CBT-I Should Be Implemented in Treatment Concepts in the Public Health System-Description of the Nightmare Treatment Process in the Context of PTSD. Front Psychol. 2021 Oct 25;12:733911. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.733911. PMID: 34764915; PMCID: PMC8576602.


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