Gaining body weight can be an exasperating journey, particularly if it’s because you’re taking antidepressant medication that you need for generalized anxiety disorder or depressive disorder. Cymbalta (duloxetine) is an antidepressant medication that treats symptoms of depression, anxiety disorder, and chronic pain related to certain physical health conditions.
Cymbalta use and duloxetine treatment has been linked to body weight gain in some people. While it’s true that some people initially experience weight loss as a common side effect after they start taking Cymbalta, studies show there’s a connection between weight gain and higher doses of the drug or low doses over more extended periods.
How much weight you might gain on Cymbalta can depend, but some research suggests it can be common to gain 2.5 pounds over 1 year. However, other studies show some people gained 5 – 7 pounds over the course of 1 – 2 years while on Cymbalta.
It’s important to point out that it’s also possible to lose weight on Cymbalta. Weight loss during Cymbalta use and duloxetine treatment as common side effects can be true for some children who’ve been prescribed the drug, according to research.
Understanding the connection between Cymbalta and weight gain is critical to making informed treatment decisions. Keep reading to learn why Cymbalta weight gain is possible, its causes, and how best to address this Cymbalta side effect so you can make the most informed decisions about your treatment plan.
Why Does Cymbalta Make You Gain Weight?
Why does Cymbalta cause weight gain? The truth is, there isn’t any single, simple reason why you might gain weight when taking Cymbalta. Several factors can come into play when it comes to this common side effect.
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It’s also important to keep in mind that weight gain can be the result of other things, too. For example, some people experience increased appetite simply because they feel better and have an improved mood after taking an antidepressant for chronic pain.
Other reasons for Cymbalta weight gain can include:
- Neurotransmitter interference: It’s believed that some antidepressants are linked to weight gain because they affect the brain’s neurotransmitters associated with appetite control.
- Fatigue: Certain antidepressants can also cause fatigue, leading to lower energy levels, decreased activity, decreased appetite and weight gain. That said, Cymbalta is generally more likely to cause insomnia (difficulty falling and staying asleep) than drowsiness.
- Metabolism: People with slower metabolisms will naturally be more prone to gaining weight, perhaps, especially when taking certain medications like Cymbalta.
“While every medication affects everyone differently, serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) can cause weight gain. We should always give enough time to truly assess what the impact on our minds and bodies is, but too much weight gain may void the positive impact a medication has.”– Talkspace therapist Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC
How to Manage Weight Gain on Cymbalta
The first step in managing Cymbalta weight gain is talking to your doctor or healthcare provider about these common side effects. They can decide if you should alter your dosage or if other treatment options might be a better solution for treating your symptoms.
- Eat healthy: You should pay attention to your diet when taking Cymbalta. Try to eat healthily and limit highly processed foods and sugary drinks. Most meals and snacks should include fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and heart-healthy fats.
- Get active: For optimal weight management, while taking Cymbalta, try to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, like walking or biking. Be mindful not to push yourself too hard, though, as overexertion could lead to fatigue and decreased appetite that might exacerbate depression symptoms instead of improving them.
- Practice self care: You might also incorporate self-care into your daily routine by getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness or meditation, and doing things you love that are healthy and rewarding. The more you take care of your body and mind, the healthier you’ll be overall.
“Just as we need to be mindful of our weight to prevent other health complications, we need to be mindful of the potential to gain weight while taking Cymbalta. Focusing on whole grains, proteins, and fruits and veggies rather than sugar, processed foods, and too many bad fats, while staying relatively active, can help us to be mindful of weight gain.”– Talkspace therapist Meaghan Rice, PsyD, LPC
If you are noticing weight gain from Cymbalta, don’t stop medication without your doctor’s prescribed advice. Quitting Cymbalta without prescribed instructions and proper tapering can result in Cymbalta withdrawal.
Find Out If Cymbalta Is Right for You with Talkspace Psychiatry
If you’re worried about Cymbalta weight gain, understanding how to manage this side effect is important. Talkspace Psychiatry can help you decide whether Cymbalta is right for you.
Talkspace provides online psychiatry services tailored to individual needs. Our experienced, qualified mental health providers will help you evaluate the pros and cons of Cymbalta for managing depression and anxiety. Together, you’ll consider your overall medical history and goals for treatment and then make decisions regarding your treatment and care plan.
With proper monitoring and guidance from a healthcare provider or Talkspace psychiatrist, you can manage any associated risks, including Cymbalta and weight gain, and decide if this medication is right for your mental health needs. By closely monitoring your body’s reactions to Cymbalta, you can proactively monitor and prevent unwanted weight gain.
Take the first step toward living a healthy life and becoming the best version of you — join Talkspace today and start feeling better tomorrow!
- Wise TN, Perahia DG, Pangallo BA, Losin WG, Wiltse CG. Effects of the antidepressant duloxetine on body weight. The Primary Care Companion For CNS Disorders. 2006;8(5). doi:10.4088/pcc.v08n0503. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1764530/. Accessed March 7, 2023.
- Wohlreich MM, Mallinckrodt CH, Prakash A, Watkin JG, Carter WP. Duloxetine for the treatment of major depressive disorder: Safety and tolerability associated with dose escalation. Depression and Anxiety. 2006;24(1):41-52. doi:10.1002/da.20209. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/da.20209. Accessed March 7, 2023.
- Poppen H. Weight gain in veterans taking duloxetine, pregabalin, or both for the treatment of neuropathy. Federal Practitioner. 2021;(38 No. 5). doi:10.12788/fp.0111. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8221832/. Accessed March 7, 2023.
- DULOXETINE – duloxetine capsule, delayed release . accessdata.fda.gov. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=101.12. Accessed March 7, 2023.
- Michael, N, Caron, A. New Horizons: Is Obesity a Disorder of Neurotransmission? The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Medical News Today. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/106/12/e4872/6297186. Published June 12, 2021. Accessed May 10, 2023.
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