Aim:  This medication is intended to correct the chemical changes in your body, which are associated with anxiety and depressive illness.  This normally takes 3 to 4 weeks, but Cymbalta has a short half-life, and seems to work very quickly in some patients.  This medication is a new class of antidepressant, designed to improve transmission of chemical messages in the brain using the chemical pathways current research suggests are most relevant in depressive illness, being the serotonin and noradrenaline pathways. Cymbalta utilises both of these mechanisms, even in low dose.


We know that the vast majority of individuals with depressive illness will benefit from one of the available antidepressant agents, but it is not possible to predict which particular medication is best suited to any individual patient’s chemistry, so that the antidepressant first prescribed may need to be changed after some time if it is not effective.  Statistically, any antidepressant has a 70% chance of helping an individual patient.


Dosage:  To reduce possible side effects, patients are usually advised to start with a low dose, (open the capsule, pour out some of the pellets, reseal the capsule, and swallow this lower dose) and increase every week as tolerated..  If the medication makes you tired or sleepy, your doctor may advise you to divide the morning dose between morning and lunch, or take less during the day and more at night.


Important: Taking the medication after food lessens the risk of nausea.


Side Effects:  Most side effects will subside within a few weeks.  You may experience some , or none, of:

  • Tiredness, or lack of energy:  Try taking smaller doses more frequently, or more of the medication at night.  Avoid driving or using machinery if you are not fully alert.
  • Dry mouth, constipation, or blurring of vision:  The antidote medication Urocarb may help with these effects.  Laxatives may be useful.  If you develop dry mouth, good dental hygiene is important, due to the absence of protective saliva.  Bitter drinks, sugar free gum or the antidote (Urocarb) may help.
  • Nausea: Take the medication after food. Maxolon or Stemetil may help.
  • Headache:  This can be a problem and may last a few weeks in some people.   Paracetamol may help. Length of treatment:  Once you recover, you will need to keep taking the tablets for some months afterwards, to prevent the chemical imbalance from returning.  These tablets are not at all addictive.


Precautions:  Do not take these tablets:-

  • If you have taken Parnate or Nardil within the previous 2 weeks
  • If you intend becoming pregnant in the next month; and/or
  • If you are driving or using machinery, and the medication makes you drowsy.
  • If you are taking Tramadol (painkiller)


Use of Alcohol:  You can have a small amount of alcohol quite safely with these tablets, but do remember one drink may have the effect of 2 or 3 drinks.


Withdrawal symptoms: If you stop this medication suddenly, or forget to take it, you may feel you are getting the ‘flu, get dizzy, or develop strange electric sensations. Gradually cutting down the dose is important.


This information is intended to improve your knowledge of the treatment you are receiving.  Any further points can be discussed at your next consultation with your doctor.


Important Disclaimer:  This site is medical information only, and is not to be taken as diagnosis, advice or treatment, which can only be decided by your own doctor.

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