Duloxetine Overdose: How Not To Take Too Much Cymbalta?

Last Updated: June 10, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

When users take it as prescribed, there is no risk of Cymbalta overdose. However, when too much duloxetine is taken, or users mix it with contraindicated substances, an overdose is a possibility. Users should understand the facts of Cymbalta overdose and how to avoid one.

Can Users Overdose On Cymbalta?

In short: yes, users can overdose on Cymbalta. This can happen in one of two ways, or a combination of them. First, users can take too much of the Cymbalta drug, reaching a fatal dose. Second, they can combine the medication with other substances that together cause toxicity. Finally, they might do both—engage in high Cymbalta dosing while also combining it with substances that create toxicity. Duloxetine overdoses are well-documented and something all users of the drug should be aware of.

Cymbalta Overdose: How Much DuLoxetine Is Too Much?

It is impossible to know in advance how much duloxetine is needed to reach a lethal dose in an individual. There are a variety of factors that can alter what is and is not a lethal dose, from the manner in which the user took medicine to the substances they combined it with to differences in their physicality. For example, someone who is combining alcohol and Cymbalta may overdose on less of the medication than someone who is taking the medication alone.

how much cymbalta to overdose

That means that the users are not safe from overdosing. Therefore, the only safe way to take the drug is to take doses as prescribed and never combine with other substances without doctor approval.

Signs And Symptoms Of Cymbalta Overdose

Because taking too much of the drug can happen quickly and possibly without the user realizing it, anyone taking the drug should be familiar with Cymbalta overdose symptoms. It is important to understand that taking too much drug does not only occur in those chasing duloxetine high—it can happen by mistake when users accidentally combine it with a contraindicated substance.

Common signs and symptoms of duloxetine overdose include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Struggles with staying awake
  • Seizures
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Fever with sweating
  • Confusion
  • Racing heart
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Coma

Some of these symptoms are not easy to detect—such as changes in blood pressure. Others can be confused with various ailments, such as colds or the flu. However, if taking too much of the medication is suspected, users should not wait for the more severe symptoms to emerge. As soon as any of the abovementioned signs and symptoms are noticed, help should be sought. The more severe the symptoms, the more likely it is that the patient will not be able to be saved.

Cymbalta Overdose Management

The vast majority of users will never experience a Cymbalta overdose. But just because it is not likely does not mean they and their loved ones shouldn’t be prepared. Duloxetine overdose management can be the difference between life and death.

Before Emergency Arrived

Users and their loved ones should not attempt to treat taking too much duloxetine on their own. Instead, as soon as overdosing is suspected, they should call emergency services. Patients who think they are experiencing an overdose should never attempt to drive themselves to the emergency room.

Beyond that, the caller should listen to the instructions of the operator and follow them to the best of their ability.

After Hospitalization

Once at the hospital, the medical staff will manage duloxetine overdose using medications and other interventions as needed. Their exact approach will depend on what are the symptoms experiencing. For example, toxicity due to combining duloxetine with alcohol will be different than battling serotonin syndrome from mixing duloxetine with other antidepressant medications.

cymbalta overdose management

Steps the medical staff may take include:

  • use of cyproheptadine
  • temperature control
  • intubation
  • oxygenation
  • ventilation
  • monitoring of cardiac and other vital signs
  • gastric lavage
  • activated charcoal

After taking too much of the medicine, patients should not suddenly stop Cymbalta. Instead, they should work with medical professionals on weaning off the medication within the treatment program so as not to cause further health complications.

Keep A Finger On The Pulse

Duloxetine overdose is most likely to happen in people who are abusing the drug. Anyone engaging in the misuse of the medication should seek help now before it occurs. It is best to work with a rehabilitation center before the worst can occur.

Page Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21177420

Published on: May 30th, 2019

Updated on: June 10th, 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.


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