GENERIC NAME: duloxetine
BRAND NAME: Cymbalta
DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Duloxetine is a selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressants used for treating depression, anxiety disorder, and pain. Other drugs in this class include milnacipran (Savella), venlafaxine (Effexor), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq). Duloxetine affects neurotransmitters, the chemicals that nerves within the brain make and release in order to communicate with one another. Neurotransmitters either travel across the space between nerves and attach to receptors on the surface of nearby nerves or they attach to receptors on the surface of the nerves that produced them, to be taken up by the nerve and released again (a process referred to as re-uptake).
Many experts believe that an imbalance among neurotransmitters is the cause of depression as well as other psychiatric disorders. Serotonin and norepinephrine are two neurotransmitters released by nerves in the brain. Duloxetine works by preventing the reuptake of serotonin and epinephrine by nerves after they have been released. Since uptake is an important mechanism for removing released neurotransmitters and terminating their actions on adjacent nerves, the reduced uptake caused by duloxetine increases the effect of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. The mechanism responsible for its effectiveness treating pain is not known but also is thought to involve its effects on serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Duloxetine was approved by the FDA in August 2004.
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