Cymbalta during a factory inspection process

Associated Press/Darron Cummings

Cymbalta at Work in Your Body

­Let's say you're prescribed Cymbalta, but before you start popping pills, you want to know exactly what the drug will do to your body. Cymbalta is an SNRI, or a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. That means that Cymbalta, along with other SNRIs, is thought to work by affecting the levels of two key substances in the central nervous system: serotonin and norepinephrine.

Serotonin and norepinephrine are naturally occurring substances in the brain and the spinal cord, and they're tasked with modulating your emotional responses and communicating those responses to other parts of the brain. Additionally, serotonin and norepinephrine help your body to suppress pain. Researchers have linked depression with lowered levels of these neurotransmitters; serotonin and norepinephrine can also affect how much pain you feel.

Cymbalta works by changing the way these neurotransmitters behave. The drug prevents your body's cells from absorbing the serotonin and norepinephrine, which increases the levels of those substances in the brain. That may give your brain more of a fighting chance to ward off pain and depressed moods. It takes approximately one to four weeks for a person taking Cymbalta to notice any major differences in mood or pain levels.

For a more in-depth look at why Cymbalta is prescribed to certain people, go on to the next page.