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How Long Does Cymbalta Take to Work?

By Lea Winters ; Updated July 27, 2017

Advances in medical technology give people with all types of medical conditions the chance to treat these conditions and live a normal life. One such medication that is relatively new on the market is Cymbalta.

Doctors can treat several different health issues by prescribing Cymbalta to their patients. Like all medications, Cymbalta has its advantages and disadvantages. Patients considering Cymbalta should first understand these pros and cons before starting the medication.

What is Cymbalta?

Cymbalta is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat several different health conditions. It’s primarily prescribed to treat depression; but Cymbalta is also FDA-approved to treat general anxiety disorder, diabetic nerve pain and fibromyalgia.

Cymbalta is one of the medications classified as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs.) The way it works is not completely understood, but it’s believed that it stimulates serotonin and norepinephrine activity in the nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord.

Recommended Dosage

Recommended dosages for Cymbalta are essentially the same, no matter what medical condition it’s treating. For depression and general anxiety disorder, the first recommended dosage is 20 mg twice a day. After a period of time, the dosage is increased to 30 mg twice a day. Eventually the dosage reaches 60 mg once per day.

Fibromyalgia patients taking Cymbalta start with a 30 mg dose once daily for a week. After a week the dosage is increased to 60 mg once daily. Patients with diabetic nerve pain generally start with 60 mg a day. Cymbalta dosages do not increase above 60 mg and doctors strongly advise against taking more than the recommended amount.


Patients take Cymbalta to rid themselves of their depression, anxiety or body pain. It’s natural to want the symptoms to immediately disappear, but Cymbalta does take some time to work in the body before patients will see results.

Patients have reported an improvement in as little as a week. The most improvement is noticeable after four weeks of daily consumption. It’s also important to note that patients must continue their daily use of Cymbalta in order to keep their symptoms at bay.

Potential Side Effects

All medications pose a risk for side effects and Cymbalta is no exception. The potential side effects associated with Cymbalta are relatively minor compared to other types of medication. Patients most commonly report a slight stomachache or nausea after taking Cymbalta. Other common reports include dry mouth, drowsiness, constipation, excessive sweating and decreased appetite.

Effects of Withdrawal

Cymbalta must be consumed daily to avoid withdrawal symptoms. If a patient wishes to stop using Cymbalta, then it’s essential that he work with his doctor to taper off the medication. Abruptly stopping a Cymbalta regimen can cause severe withdrawal symptoms that last for several days and can affect a patient’s day-to-day life.

Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms can range from minor headaches to nausea to nightmares and irritability. The most startling withdrawal symptom is what’s commonly called a ‘brain zap.’ A brain zap is an abnormal feeling in the head immediately followed by dizziness and a split-second loss of balance. There’s no way to tell when a brain zap will occur so it can happen at a bad time and possibly cause a more dangerous situation if a patient is doing things like driving, exercising or holding a child.


Patients with depression and general anxiety disorder have a variety of medication options. Anti-depressants like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro and Effexor are available with a doctor’s prescription. Each has its own set of benefits and side effects, just like Cymbalta.

Patients with nerve pain and fibromyalgia can find alternatives to Cymbalta as well. This requires close work with doctors to determine the best course of action outside of Cymbalta.

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