Does Cymbalta stunt growth? (+research studies)

This article will discuss the potential effects of Cymbalta on growth. It will explore the mechanism of action of Cymbalta and how it relates to the growth process. 

Additionally, the article will examine the research conducted on Cymbalta’s impact on hormones responsible for growth and puberty. It will also address the safety concerns and recommendations regarding the use of Cymbalta by younger individuals. 

Furthermore, strategies to address Cymbalta’s potential indirect impact on growth and ways to optimize growth hormones will be discussed.

Does Cymbalta stunt growth?

No, Cymbalta does not stunt growth. Cymbalta is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor that works by increasing the availability of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. 

The growth process in children and preteens involves the production and release of growth hormones from the pituitary gland, which stimulate growth in bones, muscles, and other tissues. This process is not influenced by Cymbalta or its mechanism of action.

However, Cymbalta may cause certain side effects that could indirectly impact growth. To illustrate, it may cause loss of appetite, which is responsible for its effectiveness in managing binge eating disorder.

However, in some children and preteens, this side effect may lead to inadequate food intake and weight loss, potentially resulting in malnutrition. If cymbalta-induced decreased appetite and malnutrition persist for a long time, growth may be affected [1].

Furthermore, it’s essential to understand that Cymbalta is not approved by the FDA for individuals under 18 years old. However, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for accurate and personalized information regarding the use of Cymbalta in children and preteens [2].

What does research suggest?

One study assessed the effect of duloxetine on the hormones responsible for puberty, including LH, FSH, and testosterone. LH and FSH, which are responsible for the growth and development of both male and female characteristics, were not affected by duloxetine [3].

On the other hand, the study found that duloxetine decreased testosterone by 28.1 ng/dL, compared to a 2.2 ng/dL reduction caused by the placebo. However, the testosterone levels of the duloxetine-treated patients were regulated again when the patients continued taking the drug [3].

Thus, since there was no persistent change and no net decrease in testosterone throughout the full course of treatment, researchers concluded that duloxetine does not impact testosterone production [3].

Additionally, it does not impact LH, FSH, or growth hormone, demonstrating that it does not stunt growth or puberty [3].

Another study investigated the long-term safety of duloxetine for 1 year in children and teenagers (aged between 9 and 17) suffering from depression. The study revealed that the majority of side effects caused by duloxetine were of a mild or moderate nature, and no impact on growth was reported [4].

What to do if Cymbalta stunts growth?

If there are concerns about the potential growth-related effects of Cymbalta, it’s important to clarify that there is no evidence to claim that Cymbalta stunts growth. It’s also worth noting that Cymbalta is not approved by the FDA for use in children and adolescents under the age of 18.

However, if a doctor prescribes Cymbalta to someone who is still in their growing stage and there is a concern about its potential indirect impact on growth, there are some tips that may help.

Manage Cymbalta-induced decreased appetite

To address concerns about potential appetite reduction while taking Cymbalta, multiple strategies can help.

First of all, you may try eating smaller and more frequent meals rather than consuming large meals. If you prefer eating fewer meals, however, you must ensure that the few meals you eat include sufficient amounts of the required macronutrients and micronutrients.

Additionally, when you eat, start with foods that are rich in essential nutrients that support growth, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. This can be achieved by eating a diet that is high in proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products.

If you don’t feel like eating these foods, try incorporating them into various recipes or shakes. Experiment with different flavors and additives that you like.

It may also be helpful to consult with a registered dietitian to manage Cymbalta-induced low appetite and optimize nutrition for growth. Furthermore, regular physical activity can stimulate the appetite.

Take supplements

If you still can’t consume enough nutrients for optimal growth due to Cymbalta-induced decreased appetite, certain supplements can help. These include:

  • Multivitamins 
  • Vitamin D supplements can be taken to optimize bone health and growth.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids supplements should be taken if one’s diet doesn’t contain fish, as they are important for brain development.
  • Calcium is important for the growth of bones and teeth. If milk and dairy products are not consumed sufficiently, a calcium supplement should be taken.
  • Iron supplements may also be needed, as iron is essential for healthy red blood cells and oxygen transport. Insufficient iron intake can lead to anemia, which may affect growth.

Strategies to optimize growth hormones

Regularly exercising, getting adequate sleep at night, and reducing stress levels can help regulate growth hormone production. If you are concerned about your growth hormone levels, however, it is important to consult with a doctor to explore more serious approaches.


In conclusion, based on my research, I found that Cymbalta does not stunt growth. Its mechanism of action does not interfere with the growth process or growth hormones. 

However, I believe that Cymbalta-induced loss of appetite could indirectly impact growth in children if it leads to inadequate food intake and malnutrition.

If a doctor prescribes Cymbalta to adolescents, and there are concerns about its potential indirect impact on growth, I recommend trying techniques that may increase the appetite. 

In my perspective, incorporating essential nutrients into the diet consulting with a registered dietitian, and taking certain supplements may be beneficial.

Furthermore, one can explore strategies to optimize growth hormone production, but it is important to consult with a doctor for further guidance and evaluation as well.

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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:


Punjani N, Kang C, Flannigan R, Bach P, Altemus M, Kocsis JH, Wu A, Pierce H, Schlegel PN. Impact of duloxetine on male fertility: A randomised controlled clinical trial. Andrologia. 2021 Nov;53(10):e14207. doi: 10.1111/and.14207. Epub 2021 Aug 9. PMID: 34374108; PMCID: PMC8487983.,between%20treatment%20and%20placebo%20groups.


Saito T, Ishida M, Nishiyori A, Ochiai T, Katagiri H, Matsumoto H. Efficacy and Safety of Duloxetine in Children and Adolescents with Major Depressive Disorder in Japan: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial Followed by an Open-Label Long-Term Extension Trial. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2022 Apr;32(3):132-142. doi: 10.1089/cap.2021.0104. Epub 2022 Mar 18. PMID: 35319270.

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