Duloxetine is a prescription drug that comes in the form of an oral capsule. The drug is available in its brand name of Cymbalta and Irenka. The medication is used to treat various disorders, such as fibromyalgia pain, major depressive disorder, chronic muscle and joint pain, generalized anxiety disorder, and nerve pain caused by diabetes.
Duloxetine comes from a class of drugs known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). It works by balancing the chemicals in your brain responsible for anxiety and depression. Once these chemicals are balanced, the drug works to inhibit pain signals that extend from your nerves to the brain.
FDA Warning: Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors
Duloxetine carries a Black Box Warning, which means there is a severe risk of potentially dangerous side effects. The drug may increase your chances of developing suicidal thoughts and behaviors in those aged 24 or younger. Duloxetine may also make depression worse in the early stages of treatment, and you must alert your doctor immediately if your depression worsens or you have suicidal thoughts.
Other Duloxetine Warnings
While duloxetine is considered a relatively safe medication, there are risks you should pay attention to, as you might expect with all medication. Some of these warnings include:
Duloxetine may affect your ability to make decisions by causing sleepiness. It will cause you to have clouded thoughts and slow reaction times. For this reason, you should avoid driving, using heavy machinery, or otherwise abstain from dangerous activities until you understand how duloxetine affects your body.
Serotonin Syndrome Warning
Duloxetine affects serotonin in our brain, which is responsible for controlling your emotions. When you use this drug with other medications that affect serotonin, it may result in the increased risk of a severe side effect known as serotonin syndrome. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:
- Increased blood pressure & heart rate
- Loss of coordination
Since the drug can cause a sudden drop in your blood pressure when you stand up too fast, you may get extremely dizzy and fall, which can be dangerous.
Duloxetine Side Effects
Duloxetine oral capsules, as we mentioned above, may cause sleepiness and affect your ability to make decisions. Until you’ve used this medication for an adequate period and understand how your body reacts, you must take extreme caution. Other common side effects of duloxetine in adults include:
- Loss of appetite
Common side effects in children include:
- Stomach pain
- Decreased weight
Severe Side Effects
Although duloxetine is considered safe, it may still produce adverse side effects. Unfortunately, these can be life-threatening. You must contact a doctor immediately if you experience any of these side effects:
- Liver damage
- Pain in the right side of your upper abdomen
- Dark-colored urine
- Yellowing of your skin or in the white of your eyes
- Changes in blood pressure
- Serotonin syndrome
- Coordination problems
- Muscle twitching
- High fever
- Severe migraine
- Manic episodes
Call your doctor or 911 immediately if you experience any of these severe side effects.