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Can Cymbalta & Lorazepam Be Taken Together?

By Andy Osborne ; Updated July 27, 2017

Cymbalta is a prescription medication used to treat depression as well as generalized anxiety disorder, according to the Mayo Clinic. These two conditions can occur together as well, and the anxiety symptoms may be severe enough for a doctor to prescribe lorazepam, also known by its trade name Ativan.

Cymbalta and lorazepam are very different medications that can be safely taken together under a doctor's supervision. Before making a decision with your doctor, however, it is essential to first understand the nature of this particular combination of medications.

Identification

Identifying Cymbalta and lorazepam is vital when you are taking the two drugs. If you keep the medications in a daily organizer-style pill case out of the labeled bottles, for instance, you will have no trouble telling which is which.

Both medications are prescribed as pills, although Cymbalta is administered as a capsule and lorazepam as a small tablet. Cymbalta and generic duloxetine appear similar to the capsules pictured below, although colors may vary from white to blue and yellow. Generic lorazepam tablets are round and can be quite small, whereas the brand name Ativan version tablets are shaped like a stylized letter A.

Types

Cymbalta and lorazepam are two very different types of drugs.

Cymbalta is the trade name for duloxetine, a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSNRI). Duloxetine allows more serotonin and norepinephrine to remain in the brain by influencing the action of these two neurotransmitters, or chemical "messengers" in the brain, by an exact method of action that is still unknown to medical science.

Lorazepam, often referred to as Ativan, is a high-potency benzodiazepine drug. Often termed an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety medication), lorazepam relieves anxiety by depressing the central nervous system.

Function

If your doctor has prescribed you both Cymbalta and lorazepam, it is likely that she is doing so to alleviate serious anxiety symptoms.

The function of Cymbalta is to help with depression as well as anxiety, although it may not work the same way for everyone. It also may take several days to several weeks to begin providing relief from anxiety. Lorazepam, on the other hand, begins to work within 20 minutes to an hour after it is taken orally, and produces noticeable anxiety-relieving effects very rapidly.

While you may not immediately feel the results of Cymbalta after taking one dose, it is extremely likely that you will know shortly after your first dose of lorazepam whether the drug is functioning well for your symptoms.

Considerations

A major consideration when using lorazepam with Cymbalta is that lorazepam has a high potential to be habit-forming. This is especially true if you have a history of drug or alcohol dependence. It is important to tell your doctor about your history before starting the combination of these two drugs.

Cymbalta is indicated for long-term treatment of depression and anxiety, while lorazepam is prescribed to help with severe or debilitating anxiety such as panic attacks. It is likely that your doctor will wean you off the lorazepam slowly after the Cymbalta begins to do its job.

Warning

The FDA reports that Cymbalta and lorazepam have no interactions on each other in a pharmacological sense. They are safe to take together under your doctor's instruction. However, if you drink alcohol--especially more than one drink per day--there is a serious risk of over-sedation, mainly posed by lorazepam. Respiratory depression--potentially fatal--can occur if alcohol is introduced into the body with lorazepam.

Contact the emergency services immediately if you or a loved one display any serious symptoms of alcohol-induced lorazepam overdose, such as slowed breathing, confusion, or difficulty staying awake.

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