Harvard Mental Health Letter

Questions & Answers: Advantages of Cymbalta for depression?

Questions & Answers

Q. Does the new antidepressant duloxetine (Cymbalta) have any advantages over other antidepressant drugs?

A. Duloxetine (Cymbalta) became available by prescription in the summer of 2004. Described as a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SSNRI), it boosts the activity of two neurotransmitters that play a role in depression.

Dual-action medications already available include older tricyclic antidepressants and two more recent drugs, venlafaxine (Effexor) and mirtazapine (Remeron). Especially for patients with moderate to severe depression, dual-action drugs may work better than the popular antidepressants that enhance only serotonin, such as fluoxetine (Prozac). The scientific evidence is encouraging, but not entirely convincing, since trials have been brief and experimental groups have been given varied doses.

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