Does Duloxetine work for everyone? (3+ studies)

In this article, we will answer the question, “Does Duloxetine work for everyone?”. We will discuss the research findings on the efficacy of duloxetine. We will also discuss the factors affecting duloxetine treatment and measures to take when duloxetine is not working for you. During our discussion, we will also cover the scenarios in which duloxetine should not be used.

Does Duloxetine work for everyone? 

No, duloxetine may not work for everyone. The response to duloxetine varies among individuals; some individuals may benefit from duloxetine therapy, and some individuals may not respond or experience side effects leading to discontinuation of the therapy. 

Duloxetine is an antidepressant which belongs to the class of serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which is used to treat mental illnesses such as depression, generalised anxiety disorders, along with other conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic musculoskeletal pain, diabetic and chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, stress urinary incontinence in both men and women. (1)

What does the research suggest? 

Research studies have found that duloxetine is effective, safe and tolerable in both short-term and long-term treatment of depression and physical pain. Duloxetine is safe and well tolerated at both low and high doses (60-120mg) in elderly patients and in patients taking concomitant medication. (2)

A research study on “current opinions about the use of duloxetine” stated that 69% of patients had good tolerance, 28% had excellent tolerance, and 3% showed regular tolerance to duloxetine.  (2)

In a study, the efficacy of duloxetine in generalised anxiety was assessed. The study found that duloxetine-treated patients showed significant improvement and remission compared to placebo. Duloxetine was discontinued due to adverse events by 11.3% of the patients who were on 60mg of duloxetine and by 15.3% of patients who were on 120mg of duloxetine. (3)

Why does duloxetine not work for everyone? 

There are several factors that can contribute to the reason why duloxetine does not work, such as: 

  • Individual variability: Each individual has their own way of responding to medication because of the different metabolism and biochemistry of the body. Genetic variation can also play a role in how an individual reacts to the medication. 


  • Tolerance: You can develop tolerance to the drug over time, which means the initial therapeutic effect of the drug decreases, and the medication may not be effective at that particular dose. 


  • The severity of the condition: The severity can influence the response to duloxetine. If your condition is severe, you may need a combination therapy or a high dose of the drug. 


  • Adherence: If you are not taking duloxetine regularly as prescribed by your doctor, you will not benefit from the treatment. 


  • Concomitant medication: The use of other medications along with duloxetine can impact its effectiveness. Drugs such as amphetamine, aripiprazole, aspirin, celecoxib, apixaban, budesonide, etc. 


  • Psychosocial factors: Factors such as stress, lifestyle, and environmental factors can influence the overall effectiveness of duloxetine. It is essential to address these factors for a better and more effective treatment of the illness. 


  • Patient factors: Factors such as age, gender, weight and lifestyle can influence duloxetine’s action and affect the efficacy of the drug.


  • Underlying condition: Coexisting conditions such as liver disease, kidney disease, etc, can impact the effectiveness of the drug. 

What should you do if duloxetine is not working? 

It is important to pay attention to any potential recurrence of symptoms that you may experience while taking duloxetine. These symptoms may include reduced interest in your day-to-day activities, decreased concentration and attention, changes in mood, and an increase in pain. If you notice any of these symptoms, it may indicate that the medication is not working.

If you notice that your symptoms are not being treated and are worsening, consult your physician for further management. Your physician may increase your dose or switch to another antidepressant. Do not alter the dose of duloxetine, and avoid self-medicating as it can lead to side effects and worsen your condition. 

Your physician may recommend other alternative antidepressants depending upon your condition, such as: 

  • SSRI: citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline.
  • SNRI: venlafaxine, milnacipran, desvenlafaxine, levomilnacipran.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: amitriptyline, amoxapine, nortriptyline, imipramine. 
  • Atypical antidepressants: bupropion, mirtazapine, trazodone. 
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): Isocarboxazid, selegiline.

You can also consider other non-pharmacological therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, physical therapy and psychotherapy, along with duloxetine to help treat your illness more effectively. 

What are the conditions where duloxetine should not be used?  

There are some conditions where duloxetine is not recommended due to potential risk. Antidepressants such as duloxetine should be consumed only under the guidance of a physicain to avoid side effects and withdrawal symptoms. Some of the situations where duloxetine is contraindicated are: 

  • If you are allergic to the drug.
  • If you are taking the monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) class of drugs, concomitant use of duloxetine is not recommended. 
  • If you have glaucoma, increased intraocular pressure or visual disturbance.
  • If you have severe liver and kidney problems or if you have high blood pressure, consult your physician before taking duloxetine, as it may need dose adjustment. 
  • Duloxetine is not approved for bipolar disorder; it may exacerbate maniac symptoms. 

In my experience as a pharmacist, not all individuals respond to duloxetine. Choosing an antidepressant to treat your symptoms may need trial and error. If you are experiencing any side effects such as nausea, insomnia, tremors, weight loss, dizziness, drowsiness, suicidal thoughts, or any unwanted changes with duloxetine use, make sure you consult your physician. Do not self-medicate or adjust your dosage without proper guidance.  

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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: 


Alvarez-Mon MA, García-Montero C, Fraile-Martinez O, Quintero J, Fernandez-Rojo S, Mora F, Gutiérrez-Rojas L, Molina-Ruiz RM, Lahera G, Álvarez-Mon M, Ortega MA. Current Opinions about the Use of Duloxetine: Results from a Survey Aimed at Psychiatrists. Brain Sciences. 2023 Feb 15;13(2):333. Available from:,physical%20symptoms%20related%20to%20depression.&text=The%20maximum%20dose%20of%20duloxetine,responses%20in%2097%25%20of%20patients.



Koponen H, Allgulander C, Erickson J, Dunayevich E, Pritchett Y, Detke MJ, Ball SG, Russell JM. Efficacy of duloxetine for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: implications for primary care physicians. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry. 2007;9(2):100. Available from:

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