Does Cymbalta (Duloxetine) Cause Weight Gain Or Loss?

Last Updated: June 3, 2020

Authored by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH

Cymbalta, also known by its brand name duloxetine, can cause a person’s body weight changes. Due to this, many patients with depression and anxiety disorders have associated Cymbalta with weight gain or loss. Although a smaller number of patients believe that Cymbalta causes weight gain because they experienced this side effect in the initial stages of its use. This article examines the link between Cymbalta and weight and how to prevent this side effect.

Cymbalta Weight Gain

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors(SNRIs), which is Cymbalta’s drug class, are a class of drugs that work by balancing the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain leading to improved mood in depressive patients. Despite the effectiveness of this class of drugs, some such as Cymbalta can cause weight gain as a side effect. A study conducted by the U.S National Library of Medicine found that the patients who took Cymbalta for long periods were more likely to experience an increase in body mass; in particular, those who used Cymbalta for nerve pain. This begs the question of how much extra fat someone can gain and how to stop Cymbalta’s weight gain side effect.

How Much And How Fast A Patient Can Gain Weight On Cymbalta

An amount of extra mass patients may put on depends on their Cymbalta dosage and the length of use. Patients experiencing weight gain on Cymbalta, however, report a relatively small amount over a long period. Duloxetine’s weight gain over a period of 52 weeks is only averaging to about 1.1 kilograms (about 2.5 lb).

How To Stop Cymbalta Weight Gain

Extra body mass, as one of the side effects of duloxetine, is frustrating. However, it is a lesser issue compared to the effects of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and nerve pain in the arms and legs. Still, there are certain steps that one can take to stop weight gain on Cymbalta. These steps include:

  • Regular exercises. Physical exercises play a major role in preventing weight gain on duloxetine and other antidepressants by burning the extra calories.
  • Daily breakfast. Research has shown that breakfast eaters normally have healthier habits, which helps them to keep a body mass without significant fluctuations.
  • Keep track of body mass. Those taking antidepressants like duloxetine should regularly weigh themselves to react to the slightest changes promptly. This is especially referred to those who are prone to obesity.
  • Create and stick to the weight loss plan. It is hard to determine a diet by themselves; the patients may consult with a nutritionist for a greater effect.

how to lose weight while taking cymbalta

Cymbalta Weight Loss

Does Cymbalta Cause Weight Loss?

A study that was published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment suggested that serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors like Cymbalta cause weight loss due to decreased appetite. Many people have reported body mass loss on various generics of Cymbalta. In a placebo-controlled study, for instance, duloxetine-treated patients had a mean body mass loss of only half a kilogram. It means that duloxetine does cause weight loss, though low.

Possible Reasons Why Duloxetine Causes Weight Loss

The brain neurotransmitters play a role in energy balance in the body and are often studied for explaining and describing eating disorders which accompany depression. As a result, antidepressant drugs such as Cymbalta can cause weight loss due to the following reasons:

  • decreased appetite as a side effect of medication
  • increased metabolism of depressive patients as a result of taking duloxetine
  • decreased uptake of water in the body causing a decrease in mass
  • Cymbalta interaction with other drugs if the patient is using it in combination with other drugs.

How To Prevent Weight Gain Or Loss On Cymbalta?

Duloxetine’s side effects on body mass can be mitigated as long as the patient is willing and ready to keep a track on everyday habits.

The general advice on how to keep one’s mass in normal condition is as follows:

  1. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Decrease fatty foods in a diet. In addition, it is better to avoid too much sodium. On the contrary, a diet should include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that contain a good amount of potassium such as bananas, spinach, and avocados.
  2. Get quality sleep. Good night sleep is crucial because it allows the body to rest. Duloxetine weight loss can be a result of increased metabolism having and consequent chronic tiredness. Quality sleep can help cancel out this effect a bit.
  3. Stay active. It is critical not to stop physical activity once after a patient has started taking the drug. It works in both cases – duloxetine weight gain and loss. However, if one puts on a few pounds, it is especially effective by burning the extra calories.
  4. Switch to an alternative medication. Consult a doctor for other similar medication that would be best suited to the condition, particularly if Cymbalta is significantly affecting the body mass. For example, Effexor vs Cymbalta comparison suggests that some patients may benefit more from Effexor.
  5. Take the correct dosage. Always take the prescribed dosage as directed by a doctor. This helps determines how long it takes for Cymbalta to get out of the system and further actions to prevent any body mass changes after stopping the drug.

Stay Informed

Cymbalta does cause weight loss or gain: it depends on many factors. However, such effects occur only after long-term use of the drug. Hopefully, these side effects can be prevented. The sooner proper actions are undertaken, the less body mass changes one will experience. Still, patients should always consult a doctor if duloxetine causes unexpected weight loss or gain. Seeking professional help is important in case of medication abuse as the drug rehabs can guide patients in the right direction for a fast and long-standing recovery. Also, a doctor can advise a treatment option based on history of the disease and drug use.

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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.


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  • Edie
    I have experience rapid onset of wt. gain to the tune of 30lbs.I do not need since beginning cymbalta.