Duloxetine Drug Class: Is Cymbalta An SSRI, Narcotic Or MAOI?

Last Updated: June 3, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Cymbalta is a commonly prescribed antidepressant. However, knowing that its broad drug class is antidepressant does not tell the entire story. Here is what users should know about the duloxetine drug classifications.

Is Cymbalta A Narcotic?

Duloxetine, generic for Cymbalta, is well known for being an antidepressant. However, many drugs can fall into multiple drug classes. People often wonder if duloxetine is a narcotic. This might sound like a strange question to have, but once the user understands all the ways the drug is used, it actually makes sense. The duloxetine drug class is not narcotic.

Is Cymbalta A Controlled Substance?

Another common concern is if duloxetine is a controlled substance. This depends on how users think of controlled substances. If using the definition provided by the Drug Enforcement Agency of the United States, it is not; duloxetine is not on the DEA list of controlled substances.
However, many people use the term “controlled substance” to indicate any medication that is available by prescription only. Under this definition, duloxetine, and the rest majority of the Cymbalta drug class would be controlled substances. This is because duloxetine side effects are too dangerous to allow patients to manage them on their own.
drug control legislation

Is Cymbalta A Benzodiazepine?

Duloxetine can be used to treat a variety of behavioral health concerns, including anxiety. Because of this, some people believe that Cymbalta is a benzodiazepine. However, this is not the duloxetine class.Despite the variety of Cymbalta uses, it has only one drug class. That class is not benzodiazepines.

Is Cymbalta An Opioid?

Much like this question of the medication being a narcotic, there is a concern of whether Cymbalta is an opioid since it is used to treat nerve pain. For a medication to be classed as an opioid, it must bind to the opioid receptors somewhere in the body. Duloxetine does not, thus, the Cymbalta classification is not opioid. However, for those dealing with nerve pain, the lower rate of addiction and duloxetine price can make it a good alternative to opioid medications.

Is Cymbalta A Stimulant?

Because the medication makes people feel happier, users often wonder if this drug is a stimulant. While it may have an uplifting effect on some users, the duloxetine classification is not that of stimulant. In fact, duloxetine can turn fatal when combined with stimulant medications. In case of overdose or severe reactions, patients should seek immediate professional help and treatment.

Is Cymbalta An Antidepressant?

At this point, it is clear that what type of drug Cymbalta is would be an antidepressant. However, just knowing that duloxetine is an antidepressant does not tell the entire story. Antidepressants can be divided into subclasses based on the way they act on the body. Depending on what subclass it belongs to, Cymbalta erectile dysfunction could be a problem. Another concern is the Cymbalta side effect of weight gain. As such, users should know the correct subclass for duloxetine and what it could mean for them.

Is Cymbalta An MAOI?

MAOI stands for monoamine oxidase inhibitor. These antidepressants level the mood of the user by inhibiting the activity of one or both monoamine oxidase enzymes the body produces. For those wondering if this medicine is an MAOI, the answer is no. Duloxetine is not an MAOI because it does not work to inhibit monoamine oxidase enzymes.

Is Cymbalta A Tricyclic Antidepressant?

Tricyclic antidepressants are the oldest drugs in the class. They are not named based on how they work on the body, but rather their chemical structure, which has three rings of atoms. Cymbalta is not a tricyclic antidepressant because it does not have this three-ringed chemical structure needed to be part of the subclass.
cymbalta antidepressant

Is Cymbalta An SSRI?

SSRI stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Cymbalta is an SSRI. This means that the medication works inhibiting the body’s reuptake of serotonin to the degree that elevates the mood without flooding the body with the chemical, which can be deadly. The exact way the medications accomplish this is not known, so since duloxetine is an SSRI, users cannot be certain exactly how the medication works on their body. Duloxetine SSRI is just one of many medications in its class.

It is important to note that there are other subclasses of antidepressants, but they tend to be less common. Still, users should learn more about them so they can evaluate which medication is best for them. For example, they might want to consider Cymbalta vs. Effexor to avoid certain side effects.

When Duloxetine Use Becomes Problematic

Cymbalta is part of the antidepressant drug class, which means that it can help many people live better lives. However, it can also deliver a certain euphoria that leads people to abuse it. If someone is misusing duloxetine, they should seek help from a drug rehabilitation center.

Page Sources

  1. Howard S. Smith, Donna Bracken, Joshua M. Smith, Duloxetine: A Review of Its Safety and Efficacy in the Management of Fibromyalgia Syndrome, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3661232/
  2. Duloxetine Compound Summary, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/duloxetine

Published on: May 30th, 2019

Updated on: June 3rd, 2020

About Author

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

After successful graduation from Boston University, MA, Sharon gained a Master’s degree in Public Health. Since then, Sharon devoted herself entirely to the medical niche. Sharon Levy is also a certified addiction recovery coach.


Leave a comment