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Cymbalta vs. Effexor

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Finding the right medication for depression and anxiety can be overwhelming, especially when so many treatment options are available on the market

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Finding the right medication for depression and anxiety can be overwhelming, especially when so many treatment options are available on the market. How do you know which one is right for you? In this article, we’ll compare Cymbalta and Effexor; two medications often prescribed to treat depression and anxiety symptoms. 

While both are part of the same drug class called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), each medication has its own unique doses and side effects. Understanding their similarities and differences will help you have an informed discussion with your care provider about which one is right for you. 

The healthcare providers on Klarity provide access to affordable online depression and anxiety treatment. Take this brief assessment, and we’ll connect you with a mental health provider in your state within 48 hours.

This article discusses suicide, suicidal ideation, and self-harm. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or is in crisis, contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately at 800-273-8255

What is Cymbalta?

Cymbalta is an SNRI known as duloxetine in its generic form. SNRIs block the reabsorption of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, which contribute to our overall mood and energy. When reuptake is stopped, higher levels of these neurotransmitters in our system help us feel better and more energized. 

Common Doses and Forms of Cymbalta

Cymbalta comes as a delayed-release capsule, and your dosage varies based on your current symptoms, health history, and the recommendation of your care provider. Always take Cymbalta exactly as prescribed to avoid adverse side effects. 

For people experiencing depression, you may be prescribed 30 to 60 mg a day. If you have anxiety symptoms, your dose may be 30 to 120 mg daily. Your care provider may start you on a lower dose and gradually increase the amount as you progress through your treatment plan.

Conditions Cymbalta Treats

Cymbalta is FDA-approved to treat major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder. It can also be prescribed for other conditions in an off-label capacity. 

Cymbalta Can Treat Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

Cymbalta is an antidepressant that treats symptoms of anxiety and depression, including the following.

For depression:

  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Sleeping or eating more or less than usual
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Suicidal ideation

For anxiety:

  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep disturbances

Off-Label Uses for Cymbalta

Beyond treating major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder, Cymbalta can also be prescribed off-label to treat nerve pain associated with diabetes. Off-label use of medications means that while it may not be FDA-approved to treat nerve pain, it has been an effective treatment if other medicines fail. 

Cymbalta Costs

The cost of Cymbalta varies based on your prescribed dose, the pharmacy you use, and your insurance coverage. You can expect to pay anywhere from $3.99 to $50.87 for 30 capsules of 30 mg. Talk with your care provider about taking the generic form of Cymbalta, Duloxetine, as it can be more affordable than the brand name. 

Cymbalta Side Effects

The common side effects of Cymbalta include the following:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Blurry vision
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Difficulty orgasming or maintaining an erection

Some side effects will dissipate as your body acclimates to the medication. If you experience any of the following more serious side effects, contact emergency medical services immediately.

  • Hallucinations
  • Excessive euphoria
  • Prolonged restlessness
  • Constant headaches or muscle cramps
  • Eye pain or blurred vision
  • Yellowing skin or eyes
  • Bloody urine or cough
  • Bloody gums or inexplicable bruising

Cymbalta Warnings

You should not take Cymbalta if you have narrow-angle glaucoma or if you’ve taken any of the following MAO Inhibitors within the last two weeks.

  • Isocarboxazid
  • Linezolid
  • Phenelzine
  • Rasagiline
  • Selegiline
  • Tranylcypromine
  • Methylene blue injection

Additionally, if you experience any significant mood changes or start having thoughts of self-harm, contact your care provider immediately. They will advise you to either safely stop taking the medication or adjust your dose to alleviate unwanted side effects. 

Cymbalta Drug Interactions

Cymbalta interacts with 576 drugs, with 103 major interactions, 450 moderate interactions, and 23 minor interactions. When cross-checked with the most frequently prescribed medications, Cymbalta has major interactions with Adderall, Flexeril, Tramadol, and Trazodone. This medication has moderate interactions with the following drugs.

  • Aspirin
  • Baclofen
  • Clonazepam
  • Gabapentin
  • Klonopin
  • Lyrica
  • Oxycodone
  • Xanax

You should discuss any other medications you’re taking with your care provider before trying Cymbalta to ensure it’s safe for you. 

What is Effexor?

Effexor, called Venlafaxine in its generic form, is also a medication within the SNRI drug class. It works by increasing mood-enhancing chemicals in our brains to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Common Doses and Forms of Effexor 

Everyone experiences anxiety and depression differently, which means the dose you’ll take depends on your symptoms and your healthcare provider’s recommendation. 

Effexor comes as a tablet or an extended-release capsule typically prescribed at 75 mg per day, divided into two or three doses. If you experience more severe symptoms, your care provider may increase your dose to a maximum of 375 mg. 

Conditions Effexor Treats

Effexor is an antidepressant approved to treat major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety. This medication has also been used off-label to treat other conditions. 

Effexor Can Treat Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

While Effexor treats the same symptoms of anxiety and depression as Cymbalta, it’s also been effective in treating symptoms of panic disorder.

Symptoms of panic disorder include the following.

  • Blushing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Shaking

Off-Label Uses for Effexor

Effexor can be prescribed off-label to treat neuropathic pain related to diabetes, hot flashes, migraines, fibromyalgia, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and complex pain syndromes. The FDA doesn’t approve this medication to treat these specific conditions, but some people experience relief by using Effexor as directed by their care provider.

Effexor Costs

How much you pay for Effexor depends on the pharmacy you use, your insurance coverage, and your prescribed dose. However, you can expect to pay anywhere from $35.35 to $88.39 monthly for 30 tablets at 75 mg. If the generic form, Venlafaxine, is available, it’s often a more cost-effective option. 

Effexor Side Effects

You should always take Effexor exactly as prescribed to avoid adverse reactions. Common side effects include the following, which will often improve over time.

  • Sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Nervousness
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia

Taking Effexor can also result in problems with orgasming or ejaculatory delay and high blood pressure. It’s important to speak with your healthcare provider if these side effects persist. Additionally, consult your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any of the following.

  • Increased heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased salivation
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Weakness
  • Teeth grinding
  • Difficulty urinating 
  • Eye pain or vision problems

Effexor Warnings

If you take Effexor, there’s an increased risk of Serotonin Syndrome. Serotonin Syndrome occurs when there’s too much serotonin in your system, resulting in mild symptoms like shivering or diarrhea to severe symptoms like muscle rigidity. Serotonin Syndrome can be fatal, so speak to your care provider right away if you have these symptoms.

  • Agitation Insomnia
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • High blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of muscle coordination 
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Excessive sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Shivering

You may be at an increased risk for bleeding, especially if you take Effexor with other anti-inflammatory medications like aspirin or ibuprofen. If you experience excessive bleeding from your gums, nose, or gastrointestinal bleeding, contact your healthcare provider immediately or seek emergency care. 

Effexor Drug Interactions

Effexor interacts with 662 drugs, with 143 major interactions, 515 moderate interactions, and four minor interactions. Of the most frequently checked medications, Effexor has major interactions with Adderall, Tramadol, Trazodone, and Wellbutrin. Moderate interactions occur with the following drugs. 

  • Abilify
  • Ambien
  • Aspirin
  • Clonazepam
  • Gabapentin
  • Klonopin
  • Lamictal
  • Lyrica
  • Seroquel
  • Xanax

Speak with your mental health provider before taking Effexor or stopping its use to ensure your safety. 

Get Anxiety and Depression Treatment With Klarity

Getting anxiety and depression treatment doesn’t have to involve navigating neverending wait times, taking off work, or long commutes. At Klarity, we connect you with trained mental health providers online so that you can get treatment from the comfort of your own home when it’s convenient for you. 

We believe mental health care should be accessible and affordable for everyone, which is why you won’t face any surprises or hidden fees. Your initial visit will only cost you $149, and every subsequent follow-up appointment is just $59. Need refills? We’ll send your prescription to a pharmacy near you or right to your door for $25. 

Start your journey to better mental health, and book an appointment today.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cymbalta and Effexor

Does Cymbalta Make You Gain Weight? Does Effexor?

Some people gain weight when taking Cymbalta long-term. However, with a healthy diet and exercise, most people can return to their regular weight. Weight gain is also a side effect of Effexor, and it can be difficult to lose that weight even after discontinuing its use. 

Is Cymbalta or Effexor Better for Anxiety?

Effexor is FDA-approved to treat anxiety, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, while Cymbalta is only FDA-approved to treat generalized anxiety disorder. Effexor may also be easier to tolerate if you switch from an SSRI or other antidepressants. Which one you take depends on your healthcare provider’s recommendation and your current symptoms. 

Can I Replace Cymbalta with Effexor?

Your mental healthcare provider may recommend switching from Cymbalta to Effexor, especially if Cymbalta doesn’t seem to be working after a period of time. Always follow your provider’s instructions to switch from one medication to another safely. You may have to taper off Cymbalta before starting Effexor. 

Is Cymbalta Energizing or Sedating? What About Effexor?

Cymbalta and Effexor can make you sleepy, so taking your initial dose before bed or when you aren’t operating a vehicle or heavy machinery is important. Once you understand how your body responds to the medication, your care provider may give you the clear to take your medication at a different time.

Does Cymbalta Cause Brain Fog? Does Effexor?

Cymbalta and Effexor do have brain fog or confusion as possible side effects. If you experience persistent brain fog, contact your care provider immediately. 

Can I Drink Alcohol On Cymbalta? On Effexor?

Alcohol can alter the effects of Cymbalta and Effexor, resulting in serious side effects. You should not drink alcohol when taking either of these medications unless your healthcare provider tells you it’s okay.

Can I Drink Caffeine When I’m on Cymbalta? How About Effexor?

Drinking caffeine with Cymbalta can increase your risk of developing Serotonin Syndrome. Caffeine can also impact the effectiveness of Effexor, so you should speak with your care provider before drinking caffeinated beverages with either medication.

What Is Better For Depression—Cymbalta or Effexor?

Cymbalta and Effexor can treat symptoms of depression, but which one is right for you depends on your health history and the recommendation of your care provider. Some may respond better to Effexor as a short-term relief option for depression symptoms, whereas others may find Cymbalta to be a better choice.


Kaci Durbin, “Cymbalta”


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