Why have I been prescribed duloxetine?
Duloxetine is licensed to treat moderate to severe major depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. You may wish to discuss this with your prescriber who will be able to give you more information.
Medication is just part of the management of these illnesses. Other therapies are also helpful; you may wish to discuss these with your prescriber.
What exactly is duloxetine?
Duloxetine is an antidepressant. It is not a tranquilliser or sleeping tablet. It comes as 30mg and 60mg capsules.
Is duloxetine safe to take?
It is usually safe to take as prescribed by your health professional, but like many medicines will not suit everyone. Let your prescriber know beforehand if any of the following apply to you:
- If you are taking other medication; this includes prescribed medication or any medicines you have bought over the counter from a pharmacy including any herbal remedies.
- Have severe kidney disease
- Uncontrolled blood pressure
- History of fits, liver problems or eye problems such as glaucoma.
- History of bleeding disorders (tendency to bruise easily)
- If you are pregnant, breast feeding, or wishing to become pregnant.
- Under 18 years of age
- Used with caution in patients with history of mania
What is the usual dose of duloxetine?
The normal dose of duloxetine is 60mg, taken once daily, up to a maximum of 120mg once daily.
How should I take my duloxetine?
Follow the directions on the label. If you have any questions ask your pharmacist, nurse or prescriber. You should also read the information leaflet supplied with the medication.
What should I do if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose and it is within a few hours of the normal time, continue to take it as normal. If it is longer, miss the dose and continue as normal when the next dose is due. Never double up on the dose.
When I feel better, can I stop taking duloxetine?
No, if you stop your duloxetine too early, your symptoms may return. To reduce the chances of this happening, it is advised you should continue to take it for at least 6 months after you become well and sometimes longer. You should discuss this with your prescriber.
You should not stop taking duloxetine suddenly as it may cause some unpleasant ‘withdrawal’ effects – see next section.
Is duloxetine addictive?
Duloxetine is not addictive but it can cause ‘withdrawal’ or discontinuation effects if stopped suddenly, or rarely if a few dose are missed. These effects can include anxiety, dizziness, feeling sick and problems sleeping. Other people describe feeling confused or ‘out of sorts’. Generally these symptoms are self-limiting and resolve within 2 weeks, though in some individuals they maybe prolonged (2-3 months or more). To help reduce the chance of this happening, the duloxetine should be slowly stopped over a period of weeks. You may wish to speak to your prescriber, pharmacist or nurse about this.
What will happen to me when I start taking duloxetine?
All antidepressants work slowly. Although some people notice a change in the first week, normally it will take several weeks for the duloxetine to have its full effect. It is important to continue to take the medication, as long as you are able to tolerate it, for long enough so that its full effects can be seen, generally 2-4 weeks for depression.
As with all antidepressants, careful observations need to be made in the first few weeks of treatment to look for any increase in suicidal thoughts which may occur.
As with all medication, duloxetine does have side effects. You may well experience these before you start feeling the benefits. Most side effects are short lived and will pass with time. The following table contains some of the more common and more important side effects of duloxetine and what to do about them. It is not a complete list and not everyone will get all of those listed. Ask your pharmacist, nurse or prescriber if you are worried about anything else you notice that you think might be a side effect.
For details of the side effects table, please follow this link: Duloxetine
Duloxetine can also occasionally cause changes in sodium levels. These will be checked periodically by your prescriber and will be discussed with you if there are any problems.
Duloxetine is occasionally associated with allergic or anaphylactic reactions, severe restlessness, fits, heart arrhythmias, and severe blood pressure changes, liver failure (rare), swelling around the face, accompanied by itching, blisters on the skin (rare). It is unclear exactly how common these problems are, although they are infrequent.
What about alcohol?
Ideally do not drink alcohol when taking this medication. This is because taking them together can make you more drowsy, sometimes severely. There is no safe drink and drive limit when taking this medication. Once people have been taking this medication for some time, they may be able to take small amounts of alcohol. Try a small amount in a safe environment and see how you feel. Ideally get someone else to tell you.
Duloxetine stays in the body a long time, so there is no point missing a tablet to have a drink.
Please click on the image to the left or follow this link to download a copy of our Duloxetine leaflet.