Cymbalta: How Long Does it Take to Work?

Like most SSNRIs and antidepressants, Cymbalta does not work immediately. It takes time for the drug to begin to affect the imbalance of chemicals within the brain. It is possible to notice improvement in sleep, energy levels, and appetite within the first one to two weeks of taking the medication. 

Share This Post

If you are one of the millions of Americans who is affected by common mental and physical health conditions like major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia, and diabetic neuropathy, you may be surprised to know that one medication, Cymbalta, can offer relief for all of your symptoms.

Cymbalta is a prescription medication that can be safely used to treat a number of physical and mental health conditions, but how long does Cymbalta take to work

What is Cymbalta?

Cymbalta, also sold under the generic name duloxetine hydrochloride, is a prescription medication that belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSNRIs).

SSNRIs most commonly treat mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Cymbalta in August 2004 for the treatment of depression, and it quickly became one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the United States. 

An estimated 16.5 million prescriptions were written for Cymbalta in 2017, making it the 46th most popularly prescribed drug in the United States.

cymbalta pills

What is Cymbalta Used to Treat?

Cymbalta is approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder and other physical and mental health conditions, including general anxiety disorder (GAD) in adults and children who are at least seven years old, diabetic neuropathy, and fibromyalgia.

A brief explanation of each of these conditions and their associated symptoms is provided below.

Clinical Depression/Major Depressive Disorder

Major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression, is a mental health condition characterized by intense, persistent feelings of sadness that last for at least two weeks or more.

The condition impacts all areas of a person’s life, including sleeping patterns, appetite,  mood, and behaviors. It is common for people with major depressive disorder to lose interest in hobbies or activities that they once enjoyed, experience difficulty performing daily tasks, and experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

The following symptoms are commonly associated with major depressive disorder:

  • Difficult concentrating and low energy
  • Mood swings
  • Nervous energy
  • Feelings of moving or thinking in slow motion
  • Sleeping and eating more or less than usual
  • Feeling sad, empty, or tearful
  • Lost of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, or helplessness

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is one of the most common forms of anxiety disorder and often has no obvious cause or reason.

Symptoms commonly associated with generalized anxiety disorder may culminate in a panic attack and can include an increased heart rate, trouble concentrating, rapid breathing, restlessness, and difficulty falling asleep.

A more acute form of anxiety, called an anxiety attack or panic attack, has symptoms that include dry mouth, feeling faint or dizzy, shortness of breath, sweating, chills or hot flashes, apprehension and worry, restlessness, distress, fear, numbness or tingling.


Fibromyalgia is characterized by unexplainable chronic musculoskeletal pain that occurs all over the body.

Symptoms of the condition include chronic musculoskeletal pain, mood issues, fatigue, tension headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, sleep issues, memory issues,  irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), depression, and anxiety.

The cause of fibromyalgia is unclear, but it may be linked to improper processing of pain signals by the brain, which causes painful sensations to be amplified.  

The FDA also now lets you take Cymbalta for other types of chronic pain such as diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain, back pain, and more. 

Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a complication of diabetes that can occur when patients are unable to control their high blood sugar.

Chronically high blood sugar levels cause damage to the nerves in the body, particularly in the legs and feet.

Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can range from problems with the blood vessels and heart to pain and numbness in the legs and feet, as well as digestive issues or urinary tract problems. 

Starting Cymbalta should be discussed with a healthcare provider especially in the case of breastfeeding (as it can pass into breast milk), narrow angle glaucoma, psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder that involve manic episodes, a history of liver damage, liver problems, or liver injury, or have a history of high blood pressure.

How Long Does Cymbalta Take to Work?

Like most SSNRIs and antidepressants, Cymbalta does not work immediately.

It takes time for the drug to begin to affect the imbalance of chemicals within the brain.

It is possible to notice improvement in sleep, energy levels, and appetite within the first one to two weeks of taking the medication.

Improvement in depressed mood and increases in interest in activities may take longer to occur, sometimes up to six to eight weeks to fully improve. 

Treatment Options for Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mental Health Ailment

Plan Product Features Treatment Today
70% off your 1st Month

Psychiatry evaluation + medication | Hims

Psychiatry evaluation + medication | Hims
  • No searching for a psychiatrist
  • No waiting rooms
  • Licensed psychiatry providers
  • Evidence-backed medicine
  • Personalized treatment plan
  • Includes Medication cost

$85/month – Includes everything

Start Treatment Today
70% off your 1st Month

Psychiatry evaluation + medication | Hers

Psychiatry evaluation + medication | Hers
  • No searching for a psychiatrist
  • No waiting rooms
  • Licensed psychiatry providers
  • Evidence-backed medicine
  • Personalized treatment plan
  • Includes Medication cost

$85/month – Includes everything

Start Treatment Today
$349/month – Most Effective Treatment Plan

Medication + Therapy | Brightside Health

Medication + Therapy | Brightside Health
  • FDA-approved medication
  • Evidence-based therapy
  • Always see and expert
  • All therapist hold a master's degree or higher
  • 85% of members feel better within 12 weeks
  • HSA/FSA eligible

$349/month – Coupon available. 

Start Treatment Today
$33/Week for 1st Month – Proven most effective

Medication + Therapy | Cerebral

Medication + Therapy | Cerebral
  • Evaluation, diagnosis, and prescription by a medical provider
  • Weekly video/phone sessions with a licensed therapist
  • Monthly medication delivery (if prescribed)
  • Chat securely with your therapist anytime
  • Regular progress tracking by provider & therapist
  • FSA / HSA eligible

Starting at $33/Week for 1st Month

Start Treatment Today

How Much Does Cymbalta Cost?

Cymbalta, the brand name medication, is also available in a generic form as duloxetine, which is substantially less expensive than Cymbalta.

Cymbalta is covered by some commercial insurance plans and may be covered by Medicare and Medicaid, but the generic version of the medication is covered by nearly all plans.

Regardless of your insured status, it is possible to find both the generic and brand name versions of the drug at a lower price by using a pharmacy discount card.

The following table compares the costs of a 30 day supply of Cymbalta and duloxetine.

Costs of a 30-Day Supply of Cymbalta and Duloxetine



20 mg oral capsules



30 mg oral capsules



60 mg oral capsules



How Do I Know What Dose of Cymbalta to Take?

Your healthcare provider will determine the right dose of Cymbalta for each patient based on their age, the form of the medication they take,  and the condition being treated.

SSNRIs like Cymbalta often need to be adjusted several times before the right dose is found, so expect your doctor to make changes to your medication as needed.

Adults with clinical depression generally take an initial dose of 40 mg per day, taken as one 20 mg release capsule twice per day.

Your doctor may choose to gradually increase your dose over time to a maintenance dose of 60 mg per day, taken either as one 30 mg capsule twice per day or one 60 mg capsule per day.

The maximum daily dosage for treatment of clinical depression should not exceed 120 mg per day, even if you are off schedule and need to miss your next dose. 

Adults with generalized anxiety disorder typically take one 60 mg capsule of Cymbalta per day with a maximum dosage that should not exceed 120 mg per day. 

Elderly patients are more likely to experience side effects when taking Cymbalta, so they are typically treated at an initial dose of 30 mg.

Children taking Cymbalta typically begin treatment at a dose of 30 mg per day before increasing to 60 mg per day, with a maximum of 120 mg per day. 

Patients taking Cymbalta for treatment of fibromyalgia or diabetic peripheral neuropathy typically take a dose of 60 mg once per day.

Current studies do not support taking a dose higher than 60 mg per day for additional benefit.

When use of the medication is stopped abruptly or the dosage is suddenly changed, Cymbalta can cause withdrawal symptoms in the central nervous system and increased risk of suicidal thoughts, particularly in patients who have been taking the medication for more than six weeks.

It’s important that patients do not change their dose of Cymbalta or stop taking their prescription without consulting with their doctor. Due to the high incidence of serious side effect withdrawal symptoms associated with Cymbalta, the term “Cymbalta Withdrawal Syndrome” has been coined to refer to the collection of symptoms that may occur after stopping the medication.

Although Cymbalta Withdrawal Syndrome has a high likelihood of occurrence and can be experienced even when discontinuing the medication under the guidance of your doctor,  withdrawing from Cymbalta under a doctor’s medical can help to minimize your symptoms and will help you to manage symptoms appropriately.

You should seek medical advice if you experience symptoms of Cymbalta withdrawal, which include:

  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Increased sweating
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle spasms or tremors
  • Headache
  • Paresthesias
  • Seizures
  • Electrical shock sensations
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Malaise
  • Depressive symptoms

Are There Any Side Effects Associated With Cymbalta?

Possible side effects of Cymbalta generally fall into two categories: common and less common. Common side effects associated with Cymbalta include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness or sleepiness
  • Skin rash
  • Dark urine
  • Eye pain
  • Skin reactions
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tremor
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight gain
  • Unusual changes in appetite
  • Nausea
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal Pain or Stomach Pain
  • Excessive sweating
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising Easily

Less common adverse effects that may occur in long-term users of Cymbalta include:

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Colitis
  • Liver disease or damage in individuals who mix the medication with alcohol
  • Frequent urination

Some potential drug interactions between the use of Cymbalta and the following over the counter and prescription drugs may exist: other SNRIs including venlafaxine, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, and paroxetine due to increased risk of serotonin syndrome, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen, tricyclic antidepressants, antipsychotics including thioridazine, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO inhibitors/MAOIs) including methylene blue, phenelzine, tranylcypromine, and isocarboxazid, antibiotics such as linezolid, tramadol, ciprofloxacin, triptans, tryptophan, amphetamines, blood thinners, flecainide, propafenone, quinidine, buspirone, and St. John's Wort.

References and Sources: 

Sesame Care

Find the best price for great doctors and specialists

  • Thousands of doctors and specialists
  • $13,000,000+ saved by patients
  • 95% patient satisfaction
  • 4.3 on TrustPilot

Popular Destinations

Recent Articles

Share On:

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore

Cerebral Review: Online Depression & Anxiety Treatment

Today, we’re deep diving with a Cerebral review to give you some insider info to help you narrow down your choices.

What are the signs of Depression?

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of depression as well as some treatment options for this condition.

Can You Use Gabapentin For Anxiety?

While Neurontin is the most common brand name for gabapentin, other forms (such as Horizant and Gralise) may be prescribed depending on the specific

Zoloft and Weight Loss: Everything You Need To Know

When it comes to Zoloft and weight loss, here’s everything you need to know.

What is Zoloft?

If you have been recently diagnosed with depression and are given Zoloft, you may want to know how the medication works, what common side

What is Venlafaxine HCL ER?

Common mental illnesses like major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder affect millions of Americans every year. While many different treatment options

Using Prozac With Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Prozac has become perhaps the most well-known antidepressant in the United States since its approval for the treatment of depression in 1986. Since then,

How Long Does Clonazepam Stay in Your System?

Clonazepam is a popular medication that is most commonly associated with treatment for panic disorder, but the medication was originally developed as a treatment

What is Sertraline and What are the Side Effects?

Sertraline is the generic form of Zoloft, a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs like

Turn On, Tune In, and…. Heal Your Brain? Psychedelics Return as Potential Therapy for Mental Health Disorders

Before they fell out of favor over half a century ago, psychedelic drugs, like psilocybin and LSD, were studied for various psychiatric diseases such

How Long Does Alprazolam Stay in Your System?

Alprazolam is a fast-acting medication, but exactly how long alprazolam stays in your body varies tremendously based on the form of the medication taken,

Paxil vs Zoloft: Differences, Similarities and Which is Better

Paxil and Zoloft are both popular Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved antidepressants that are used to treat a wide range of mental health conditions.

A Supplement for Stress? The Science Behind Adaptogens

Stress is part of all our lives. Adaptogens are a group of herbal supplements studied throughout history as a way to improve the body’s

Does Buspirone Cause Weight Gain?

Many antidepressants can cause weight gain as a side effect. Buspirone may cause an altered appetite as a side effect, which can lead to

Duloxetine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Duloxetine withdrawal is very common and well documented, affecting nearly half of all patients. Common withdrawal symptoms include dizziness, headaches, and nausea, and symptoms

Cymbalta vs. Prozac: Comparison Guide

Cymbalta and Prozac are commonly prescribed medications to treat mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder. The medications are similarly effective, although one

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

Ativan is a commonly prescribed prescription drug that is used by millions of Americans for anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders. It is the brand

Why is Mental Health Important?

As the saying goes, “There is no health without mental health,” but why is mental health so important? The reality is that although we

BuSpar: What is it? Uses, Costs, Benefits, and Doses

If you’re one of 40 million American adults suffering from an anxiety disorder or experiencing symptoms of anxiety, you might think that your battle

What are Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotics? 

Long-acting injectable (LAI) antipsychotics have been shown to prevent psychosis relapse in patients with schizophrenia. To combat poor medication adherence, LAIs are a great