Along with anxiety, depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the United States. Depression is considered a mood disorder, and it can significantly lower your quality of life, affecting your motivation, enjoyment, and your energy levels. Major depressive disorder affects as much as 16 million people in the U.S. each year. Depression is often treated by a group of medications that affects serotonin levels in the brain. One of these medications is called duloxetine, and it’s shown to be able to effectively treat depression.
However, like most prescription drugs, it can come with some side effects. It’s linked to blood pressure changes that could be potentially dangerous for people that have other heart-related issues. But how does duloxetine affect your blood pressure, and are the side effects potentially severe?
What Is Duloxetine?
Duloxetine that’s sold under the trade name Cymbalta in the U.S. It’s in a group of medications called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI). It works by interacting with both serotonin and norepinephrine, which are essential chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are tied to various functions, including motivation, positive mood, and energy levels. Depression may be caused by an imbalance of these chemicals. Therapeutic use of duloxetine may be able to correct the imbalance and alleviate symptoms.
Duloxetine affects these chemicals by blocking a natural process called reuptake, which is when a chemical is removed from the nervous system to be recycled. Blocking reuptake causes the chemical to build up, increasing its effects. In a person with low levels of serotonin, blocking reuptake may help lift their mood and increase their motivation.
How Duloxetine Effects Blood Pressure
Chemical neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine have multiple functions in the nervous system. Altering their levels may have more than just the intended effects. For the most part, drugs that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will have gone through testing and proven to be well-tolerated. That means they aren’t likely to cause severe or debilitating side effects in the majority of people. However, people may react differently to medications, which is why it’s important to pay attention to side effects and communicate with your doctor.
The FDA does offer a warning to doctors to monitor their patient’s blood pressure while they are taking duloxetine. The reason for this warning is that they’ve found that some people experience hypotension, specifically a symptom called orthostatic hypotension, which is a drop in blood pressure when standing from a sitting position. This can cause dizziness or lightheadedness. In more severe cases, it can cause fainting, which can lead to serious injuries.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) has also been reported as a potential side effect of duloxetine. Hypertension can increase your risk of experiencing heart-related complications like a heart attack or stroke. People with pre-existing issues with high or low blood pressure might have a greater risk of being negatively affected by the drug. Though it’s generally well-tolerated, it’s vital to monitor your symptoms while taking a prescription medication.