In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the release of Cymbalta (duloxetine) under Lilly pharmaceutical company. In 2013, several drug companies were given the approval to manufacture and distribute generic versions of duloxetine.
Primarily used to treat depression, duloxetine has shown to be effective in treating anxiety, fibromyalgia, pain due to diabetic nerve damage, and chronic bone or muscle pain.
How it works for depression
Cymbalta falls under the drug category Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). It works on certain parts of the brain and alters the activity of serotonin and norepinephrine. These are neurotransmitters or brain chemicals that help regulate mood and pain sensation.
Serotonin is a naturally-occurring brain chemical that plays an important role in mood regulation, pain perception, gastrointestinal function, and other physiological functions. People suffering from depression are thought to have low serotonin levels.
Norepinephrine or noradrenaline is both a brain chemical and a hormone. It works on an area in the brainstem called locus coeruleus. It plays a role in our “fight-or-flight” reponse, which is our body’s response to stress. Norepinephrine is also involved in moods, pain perception, emotions, blood pressure, thinking, and movement. It is thought that lack or inadequate levels of norepinephrine in certain brain circuits result in depressive symptoms.
Although the exact mechanism of action of SNRIs are not yet fully understood, studies show that these medications block the reuptake of serotonin, as well as norepinephrine in the brain.
Apart from its effects on serotonin and norepinephrine, duloxetine is also thought to partly help increase the anti-inflammatory cytokine activity and reduce its pro-inflammatory activity. A surge in pro-inflammatory cytokines in the brain is associated with the possibility of developing depression. However, there are no specific studies that prove this case.
The combined actions of Cymbalta on the brain helps improve symptoms of depression. Just like other medications, it would usually take days or weeks or even months before the desired effects are felt. In addition, compliance with your doctor’s recommendation is essential in ensuring efficiency of the medication.
Cymbalta may work differently for each person. It is advised that you consult your healthcare provider regularly in case your dose needs to be adjusted.
During the early stages of taking Cymbalta, people taking this medication should be observed for possible suicidal thoughts and behavior. These people have an increased risk of suicide and self-harm. However, as the medication takes effect, the risk of self-harm decreases.