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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Drug Comparisons of Cymbalta and Lexapro

03/12/2007

Question:

How dose Cymbolta compare to lexepro? Can you take them together

Answer:

Cymbalta (or duloxetine) is an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication.  it works a bit differently than lexapro (or escitalopram) which is an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibiter) type of antidepressant.  However, cymbalta does raise the level of the brain chemicals serotonin and norepinephrine.  Since both cymbalta and lexapro raise serotonin levels, there is the possibility that these levels could get too high, and a person could develop serotonin syndrome if these drugs are used together.  Serotonin syndrome is very rare, but serious.  It is characterized by agitation and mental confusion, shivering, headache, high blood pressure, fast heart rate, nausea and muscle twitching.

It may be appropriate to use two drugs together that both raise serotonin levels, but it should be done under the close supervision of a physician.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati