Cymbalta (Duloxetine) Drug Information
Duloxetine is an antidepressant agent that is used in the treatment of clinical depression. In the market, it is known as Cymbalta. In this article, we shall take a brief look at this drug and its application in clinical practice.
What is Cymbalta (duloxetine)?
Duloxetine is an antidepressant agent that works by exerting its effects on certain pathways within the brain. In medical terms, it is known as a ‘selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor’. It is utilised in the treatment of clinical conditions such as depression, peripheral neuropathy (a nerve disorder seen in patients suffering from diabetes mellitus) and anxiety disorders.
How does Cymbalta (duloxetine) work?
Within the brain are present certain neurotransmitters that are involved in normal brain function. They help maintain mood and the health of the nerve fibres in and around the brain. Of the available neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine are two such products that are released by the nerve fibres in the brain. Once these neurotransmitters are released, they are taken up by the nerve fibres once again. This helps the neighbouring nerve fibres as the effect of these are released mediators is terminated. Duloxetine helps by blocking reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine by the nerve fibres once they are released, this promoting their action on adjacent nerves. This is believed to help in the management of pain and clinical depression.
Availability and prescription
Duloxetine is available in the form of delayed release capsules that must be stored at room temperature. Doses vary depending on the clinical condition and often duloxetine as prescribed in small doses initially. Depending upon the tolerability of the drug by the patient, the dose is slowly increased until therapeutic levels are reached. For example, in the management of depression, patients may start with a 30 mg dose which will subsequently be increased to 60 mg as needed.
Common clinical applications of duloxetine include management of clinical depression, anxiety, neuropathic pain (in patients with diabetes), long-standing back pain and a clinical condition characterised by muscle pains known as fibromyalgia.
As is the case with any drug, duloxetine also has certain side-effects. Typical side-effects include nausea, constipation, and loss of appetite, drowsiness, sweating and dry mouth. Some patients may develop dizziness and must take extra care when changing position and posture.
Duloxetine and similar class of drugs can sometimes cause a side-effect known as serotonin syndrome. This condition is characterised by high levels of serotonin in the brain which can result in a fast heartbeat, loss of coordination, severe vomiting and diarrhoea along with giddiness and hallucinations.
Duloxetine (Cymbalta) is a powerful antidepressant agent that has multiple users in other clinical conditions. Side-effect profile is minimal though serious side-effects such as serotonin syndrome may need to be kept an eye out for.