How does Cymbalta® work?

Cymbalta® is part of the Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRI) class of antidepressants which inhibits receptors in the brain that affect mood, emotions, stress, and pain in order to lessen negative thoughts and feelings. Over time, as the adverse effects of this powerful drug come to light, the dangers of Cymbalta® have become increasingly clear. Numerous studies from sources like Duke University and the International Journal of Medical Sciences provide a strong case for the correlation between the use of Cymbalta® and serious fetal complications, withdrawal symptoms, and heart-related complications.

Birth Defects and Pregnancy Complications

Drugs used by a pregnant mother are passed on to the baby. Cymbalta® is a Pregnancy Category C drug. This class of drugs has been found to cause harm to developing fetuses in animal studies. It is advised by the FDA that Cymbalta® should only be used during pregnancy if the benefits of alleviating the mother’s depression outweigh the risks of harming the fetus. A study published by the International Journal of Medical Sciences has linked the use of Cymbalta® to a number of severe side-effects, including:

  • Birth Defects (such as Heart Murmur, Cleft palate, Mitral Valve Defects, Aortic Stenosis, Tricuspid Atresia, Spinia Bifida, Heart Malformations, Hypoplasia, Mental Retardation, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Down’s Syndrome)
  • Premature Birth
  • Stillbirth
  • Spontaneous Abortion
  • Ectopic Pregnancy
  • Neuro-behavioral Defects.

Withdrawal Symptoms

A report from the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices indicated that 44-55 percent of patients, upon the discontinuation of Cymbalta®, suffered from withdrawal symptoms. Of that number, 10 percent were reported as “severe” symptoms. In 50 percent of patients, the symptoms lasted longer than 1-2 weeks. Withdrawal symptoms associated with Cymbalta® can be uncomfortable and/or serious. They include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea/Dizziness/Vomiting
  • Abnormal Sweating
  • Mood Swings/Anger/Irritability
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Tingling sensations in the body and brain
  • Crying
  • Hallucinations
  • Nightmares
  • Weight fluctuation

Heart-Related Issues

A Duke University study determined the use of Cymbalta® by patients with coronary artery disease caused a higher risk of death. The research could not pinpoint the connection, but the data collected showed statistical significance: 21.4 percent of participants in the study using antidepressants died, versus the 12.5 percent of participants that died who were not taking antidepressants.


It was not long after Cymbalta® was approved by the FDA that they began to require the “Black Box Warning” regarding the possible elevated risk of suicidal behavior in teens and children. More recently, conclusive evidence has shown that these side effects of behavioral shifts are also present in young adults up to age 25, so the FDA added the requirement for more warnings.

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