What does Cymbalta treat? (+5 indications)

In this article, we will discuss the common indications for Cymbalta. We will also discuss the dosage and duration of treatment with Cymbalta for the management of various health conditions as well as the side effects associated with the use of Cymbalta in individuals with underlying mental disorders.

What does Cymbalta treat?

Cymbalta is used in the treatment of the following medical conditions (1): 

  • anxiety disorders
  • depression
  • obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic pain

Anxiety disorders 

According to research, Cymbalta is an FDA-approved medication, used as a first-line treatment for the management of generalized anxiety disorders. It works by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. These neurotransmitters are responsible for the regulation of mood and alleviation of various symptoms of anxiety such as restlessness, irritability, excessive worrying, and low mood.

Dosage and duration of treatment

Cymbalta is usually prescribed at a dosage of 60 to 120 mg for the management of anxiety and its associated symptoms. However, a low dose of Cymbalta is less likely to cause serious adverse effects in individuals with underlying anxiety disorders. The duration of treatment with Cymbalta for anxiety usually takes a few weeks to months (2).

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Cymbalta is also indicated for the management of Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and its associated symptoms. OCD is a mental disorder that is characterized by repetitive unwanted thoughts and behaviors. It can significantly interfere with daily activities, and relationships, and affect the overall quality of life.

Dosage and duration of treatment

Cymbalta helps in the management of drug-resistant OCD at a dosage of 120 mg for a duration of 3 months. Symptoms of OCD may start showing improvement within 3 to 4 weeks of treatment initiation. However, it is important to continue medication until complete remission of symptoms (3).  


Cymbalta helps in maintaining higher levels of serotonin in the synaptic cleft, positively impacting mood regulation and reduction of sadness and irritability associated with depression. However, the effectiveness of Cymbalta in depression depends upon various factors including individual response to medication, severity of depression, and overall health status.

Generally, Cymbalta is a well-tolerated medication with a lower incidence of serious adverse effects in depressive patients.

Dosage and duration of treatment

Cymbalta exhibits varying effectiveness in treating major depressive disorder, often showing improvement after 3 to 4 weeks. Dosages typically start at 20-30 mg daily and can be adjusted up to 60 mg. The duration of treatment varies, lasting from weeks to months, depending on individual response and treatment goals (4).


Fibromyalgia is a medical condition that is associated with various symptoms including muscle pain, tiredness, difficulty sleeping, and depressed mood. It may occur concomitantly with other mental disorders including anxiety, stress disorders, and depression.

Cymbalta, which is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor improves these symptoms of fibromyalgia by increasing the concentration of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.

Dosage and duration of treatment

Cymbalta at a dosage of 60 mg daily may take 10 to 12 weeks for the alleviation of symptoms of fibromyalgia. The dosage of Cymbalta may be increased up to 120 mg based on the severity of symptoms and individual response to the treatment (6).

Chronic pain

Cymbalta is effective in managing chronic pain associated with various medical conditions. It may help with neuropathic pain, joint pain, muscle pain, and lower back pain. Cymbalta works by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, which may have a modulating effect on pain signals.

Dosage and duration of treatment

The timeline for pain improvement with Cymbalta varies among individuals. Studies suggest an initial relief within weeks, but the full therapeutic effect may take months. A trial period of 2 to 4 weeks is common, with treatment tailored based on factors like the underlying cause of chronic pain and overall health (5).

Regular communication with a healthcare provider is essential during the course of treatment to monitor progress, adjust the dosage if needed, and address any concerns or side effects.

What are the side effects of Cymbalta?

The most common side effects associated with the use of Cymbalta in individuals with underlying mental disorders and chronic pain may include (1):

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dry mouth
  • headaches
  • sleep disturbances
  • appetite changes
  • sexual disturbances
  • agitation
  • aggression
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • numbness

It is important to note that Cymbalta generally has a well-tolerated safety profile and it does not cause severe adverse effects in most of the individuals who use it. However, the frequency and severity of these adverse effects may depend on the individual response and sensitivity to Cymbalta as well as the overall health status.

What are the alternatives to Cymbalta if it doesn’t work?

If Cymbalta is not effectively managing your symptoms, your healthcare provider may consider alternative medications for managing various medical conditions for which Cymbalta is prescribed. These medications may include:

  • Other serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibits (venlafaxine, desvenlafaxine)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (fluoxetine, citalopram)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline)
  • Atypical antidepressants (bupropion)
  • Anticonvulsants (pregabalin, gabaentin) for fibromyalgia
  • Muscle relaxants (cyclobenzaprine) for fibromyalgia
  • Opioids (morphine) for chronic pain

The choice of an alternative medication depends on various factors, including your specific symptoms, medical history, and individual response to medications. It’s important to have a detailed discussion with your healthcare professional to determine the most suitable alternative and make any necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

In my opinion, Cymbalta is an effective medication that is used in clinical settings for the management of various health conditions. While individual responses may vary, I believe that the multifaceted benefits of Cymbalta make it a valuable option in addressing complex conditions that involve both emotional and physical aspects. 

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