Cymbalta is used to treat both the emotional and physical symptoms of major depressive disorder. That means that in addition to tackling the sad and gloomy feelings we normally associate with depression, it also helps manage factors such as aches and pains, fatigue, headache and sleep problems. Some forms of depression include problems related to anxiety, which Cymbalta can treat. It's also diagnosed for general anxiety disorder, or GAD.
A person suffering from GAD may complain of constant anxiety and worry. He or she may feel constantly on edge and have difficulty concentrating, which translates to physical symptoms such as fidgeting, muscle tension and sleep disturbance. Cymbalta is designed to treat both the emotional and physical symptoms of this disorder.
In the last two major Cymbalta indications, Cymbalta's work as a means to manage pain is more primary. People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes often experience nerve damage in the extremities, particularly the feet and legs. When the nerves are damaged, they cause painful aching and burning, as well as less painful symptoms including numbness and tingling. When this happens, a person is said to be experiencing diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain; the drug blocks the pain messages sent out by the damaged nerves.
Fibromyalgia (for more common questions and expert answers on Fibromyalgia, visit Sharecare.com) is a condition distinguished by extensive pain with no known cause. While many antidepressants may be prescribed to manage the pain, Cymbalta is the only antidepressant specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat fibromyalgia.
In Europe, Cymbalta is sometimes prescribed to treat urinary incontinence, but it's currently not approved for that purpose in the United States. In a 2005 essay for Slate, writer Jeanne Lenzer wrote about a suicide that took place during U.S. clinical trials for using Cymbalta for incontinence; Lenzer speculated that Cymbalta may have caused suicidal tendencies in patients who weren't taking the drug for reasons related to depression [source: Lenzer].
While Lenzer was writing about an isolated incident, using Cymbalta does come with the risk of side effects. On the next page, we'll take a look at the side effects commonly associated with Cymbalta.