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Cymbalta Treats Pain as Well as Depression

Updated on January 15, 2014

Cymbalta is an SSRI, or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, that most people view as an anti-depressant. Cymbalta is prescribed to treat more than depression, however. It also is used to treat diabetic peripheral neuropathy, generalized anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia, and chronic musculoskeletal pain. It is also being studied as a treatment for pain caused by chemotherapy.

Depression and Anxiety

Cymbalta, Eli Lilly's trademarked name for the medication duloxetine hydrochloride, was first approved, in 2004, to treat major depressive disorder. Cymbalta works by increasing the level of serotonin, which is sometimes called a "feel-good" neurotransmitter, in the brain. Low levels of serotonin have been linked to depression. In 2007, the FDA authorized Cymbalta for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder

While Cymbalta is prescribed to treat depression, it, along with other SSRIs, has been found to increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in some children and adolescents with major depressive disorder and other psychiatric disorders. As a result, Cymbalta is not approved for use in pediatric patients.

Pain Management

Since its introduction in 2004, the FDA has expanded the authorized uses of Cymbalta to include management of several types of chronic pain. It was approved for the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy in 2004, fibromyalgia in 2007, and chronic low back pain and osteoarthritis in 2010.

It has also been shown in some clinical studies to relieve pain caused by certaypes of chemotherapy.


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