How Long Does It Take for Cymbalta to Work?

Published on: 23 May 2023
Clinically Reviewed by Meaghan Rice PsyD., LPC
How Long Does It Take for Cymbalta to Work

Cymbalta (duloxetine) is an antidepressant medication used to treat multiple mental health conditions, including major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety. 

Cymbalta is a serotonin noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). SNRIs alter serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain — two hormones linked to mood. It can take time for Cymbalta to reach its full impact.

How long it takes for Cymbalta to work varies, but research shows that, on average, it takes about 2 – 4 weeks to start working. That said, it’s not uncommon for it to take up to 6 – 8 weeks before a significant change in depressed mood becomes noticeable. 

Keep reading to learn more about how long Cymbalta takes to work — we’re answering all your questions, so you can make an informed decision about whether or not Cymbalta may be right for you. 

Can Cymbalta Work Right Away?

The answer is complex. Some people might find relief from symptoms within a few days, but it can take several weeks for others to experience the full effects of Cymbalta. This range depends on factors such as age, medical history, drug interactions, metabolism, and pre-existing conditions.

Psychiatry and Prescriptions Online

Receive an evaluation and prescription for mental health medication (if needed) from a psychiatry-trained medical provider.

How fast does Cymbalta work for anxiety?

Wondering how long it takes for Cymbalta to work for anxiety? Unfortunately, this can also vary from person to person, so the answer isn’t simple. Generally, it takes 2 – 4 weeks of regular use before Cymbalta’s effects on anxiety become obvious. However, some may experience reduced symptoms as soon as the first week or two.  

Several factors come into play in the timeline of Cymbalta’s effectiveness for anxiety, including dosage amount and frequency of administration. The type of anxiety being treated can also affect how fast Cymbalta starts working. For example, if you’re taking it for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), it might take more time before the effects are felt compared to a panic disorder or social phobia.

How Do You Know When Cymbalta Is Working?

Several indicators can help determine if Cymbalta is working effectively. One of the most apparent signs that Cymbalta is working is decreased symptoms. You might notice an improvement in disposition and vitality after taking Cymbalta. 

Another sign Cymbalta is working is if you’re experiencing fewer side effects than when you first started the prescription medication. Common side effects can include nausea, drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, and Cymbalta weight gain, which often resolve in time.  

“Typically, the person will see an improvement in appetite, sleep, and energy within the first 2 weeks. Although there may not be a visible improvement in the depressive mood instantly, it starts after weeks 6 – 8. There are fewer signs of sadness, crying spells, or irritability, and it is easier to complete your activities of daily life such as eating, sleeping, and basic hygiene.”

Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S

Factors that Affect the Onset of Cymbalta’s Effects

The rate of onset for Cymbalta’s effects hinges on multiple things. If you’re considering taking this prescription medication, it’s important to understand these factors to know when you might expect results.

  • Dosage: The dosage of any medication can affect how quickly it takes effect. Only a healthcare provider can provide proper medical advice and determine the correct dosage for your condition, symptoms, needs, and lifestyle.
  • Frequency: How often you take Cymbalta will also affect how quickly it starts working in the body. Consistent dosing as directed by a medical professional is essential for achieving optimal outcomes and mitigating possible risks.
  • Body weight: Body weight can play a role in how fast you might feel relief from symptoms after starting Cymbalta. People who weigh less might feel relief more quickly due to differences in metabolism.
  • Age: Some research suggests that age might affect how quickly your body chemistry adjusts to Cymbalta use. Younger people might experience fewer side effects of Cymbalta and see faster results. Additionally, changes like menopause or hormonal imbalances associated with aging might alter the response rate to Cymbalta use.  

“Not taking Cymbalta as prescribed or stopping treatment can affect the onset of its effects. Headache, nausea, fatigue, and sexual side effects, among other issues, can prevent you from taking it as prescribed. That can affect the onset, not allowing you to benefit from it fully. Some foods and medications can also prevent Cymbalta from working as expected. It’s important to talk to your medical professional about do’s and don’ts while taking it.”

Talkspace therapist Cynthia Catchings, LCSW-S

What to Do When Cymbalta is Not Working

When Cymbalta isn’t working, it can be frustrating. Fortunately, there are some things you can do if you’re not getting the results you hoped for.

  1. Talk to your healthcare provider:They might alter your dosage, give you medical advice and recommend trying a different drug, or suggest lifestyle changes to help improve your symptoms.  
  2. Adjust your dosage: Adjusting the medication dosage until you find the most effective amount is common. Do not adjust your dosage without prescribed instructions from your doctor.
  3. Look into alternative treatment options: Exploring other treatment options like physical activity and self-care practices such as meditation, yoga, and nutrition alterations might help reduce depression and anxiety without solely depending on pharmaceuticals. Regular breaks throughout the day or engaging in activities that bring joy into your life can help reduce stress levels.

Get Personalized Mental Health Treatment with Talkspace

If you feel like you’ve tried everything but still haven’t been successful, it may be time to seek regular help from a mental health specialist. The right psychiatrist can evaluate why your antidepressant medication isn’t working for you and create an individualized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.  

Talkspace is an online psychiatry and therapy platform where users have convenient access to telehealth. All conversations are private and secure while offering personalized support and feedback from licensed therapists and psychiatrists at affordable prices compared to traditional office visits — making it easier than ever to get quality mental healthcare without leaving home. Reach out to Talkspace to learn more about how we can help you. 


  1. Duloxetine (Cymbalta). NAMI. Accessed March 7, 2023. 
  2. Skinner MH, Kuan H-Y, Skerjanec A, et al. Effect of age on the pharmacokinetics of Duloxetine in women. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2003;57(1):54-61. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2125.2003.01963. Accessed March 7, 2023.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to in the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.

You May Also Like

Talkspace mental health services