Although best known for treating major depressive disorder, Cymbalta (generic name: duloxetine) is also a proven and effective treatment for generalized anxiety disorder. In fact, Cymbalta has been shown to positively affect many of the core and peripheral symptoms of generalized anxiety, as well as some of the physical manifestations of the disease.
Characterized by exaggerated worry or chronic anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most frequently diagnosed mental disorders in the country, at a rate of nearly four million new cases each year in the US alone. In addition to behavioral symptoms like procrastination or the inability to concentrate, the disease can cause physical pain, nausea, and muscle fatigue. By definition, these symptoms last longer than six months and may increase or decrease in severity over time.
Cymbalta operates by interfering with the metabolism of serotonin and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters which mediate not only the psychological symptoms of anxiety, but the chemical reactions which underpin the perception of pain. The exact means by which the drug effects emotional change remains unclear, but it is commonly believed that Cymbalta's ability to trigger heightened activity of these and other neurotransmitters is responsible for the improvement in mood.
As a drug, Cymbalta is generally well-tolerated. Its side effects are frequently less-severe than other treatments, leading to its current place as a first-line therapy for anxiety and depression. There are a few contraindications, so patients are advised to discuss their lifestyles with their doctors.
As scientists learn more and more about the interconnectedness of certain mental states, chemical reactions, and pharmacological effects, there may be more instances of a drug that proves to be just as effective at treating a "newer" disorder as the disease for which it was initially designed. For now, Cymbalta has expanded the pool of patients to who it might bring some relief from the pain of mental illness.