Bipolar Disorder Medications: Side Effects From Cymbalta

Antidepressants like Cymbalta may be used in some cases for bipolar disorder

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Cymbalta (duloxetine) is an antidepressant medication that is sometimes used to treat bipolar disorder, though its use for this purpose has been somewhat controversial. 

Some doctors argue that antidepressants such as Cymbalta can induce mania, hypomania, mixed states, and cycling in people with bipolar disorder, thus making the condition harder to treat. For this reason, antidepressant monotherapy is avoided in individuals with bipolar disorder.

If and when an antidepressant such as Cymbalta is prescribed, it is usually in conjunction with a mood stabilizer. 

In 2013, the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) Task Force released specific recommendations regarding the use of antidepressants with bipolar disorder. For people with bipolar I and bipolar II who are in an acute depressive episode and have a history of positive response to antidepressants, antidepressant therapy is warranted. It is also recommended as maintenance treatment if a patient relapses into a depression after the antidepressant is discontinued.

If you are taking Cymbalta as part of your treatment for bipolar disorder, here's what you need to know about potential side effects. 

Common Cymbalta Side Effects

Check with your doctor if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

Cough; nausea; diarrhea; constipation; dizziness; dry mouth; fever; frequent urination; headache; lack or loss of strength; loss of appetite; muscle aches; sleepiness or unusual drowsiness; sleeplessness; sore throat; stuffy or runny nose; increased sweating; difficulty sleeping; insomnia; unusual tiredness or weakness; vomiting; weight loss

Less Common Cymbalta Side Effects

Check with your doctor if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

Abnormal orgasm; acid or sour stomach; belching; change or problem with ejaculation; decreased interest in sex; difficulty in moving; erectile dysfunction; fear; feeling of warmth or redness of the face, neck, arms and occasionally, upper chest; heartburn; indigestion; joint pain; muscle aching or cramping; muscle pains or stiffness; nervousness; shakiness in legs, arms, hands, feet; stomach discomfort upset or pain; sudden sweating; swollen joints; trembling or shaking of hands or feet

Always Notify Your Doctor 

Abdominal or stomach pain; fast heartbeat; blistering, peeling, loosening of skin; chills; clay-colored stools; cold sweats; confusion; convulsions; dark urine; decreased urine output; difficulty swallowing; eye pain; general tiredness; itching, puffiness, or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips or tongue; increased thirst; itching; joint or muscle pain; swelling on face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, and/or sex organs; light-colored stools; red irritated eyes; red skin lesions, often with a purple center; redness of skin; sores, ulcers, or white spots in mouth or on lips; swelling of face, ankles, or hands; tearing; tightness in chest; bad breath; upper right abdominal pain; wheezing; yellow eyes and skin

Contact Your Doctor Immediately or Seek Emergency Medical Treatment 

Difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; hives; an irregular heartbeat or pulse; low blood pressure; dizziness, fainting, lightheadedness or weakness; high blood pressure; severe headache; blurred vision or other difficulty seeing; chills or fever; unusual bleeding or bruising; rash; coma; vomiting of blood

Other Cymbalta side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice anything unusual while taking Cymbalta, check with your doctor.

More on Cymbalta and Other Bipolar Medications:


Am J Psychiatry. 2013 Nov. The International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) task force report on antidepressant use in bipolar disorders.

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