Posted by Claudia Grazioso on October 5, 2011
A good friend of mine battles depression, and she has for almost ten years now. She tried a variety of medications before finding a combination that worked for her, but back when she and her doctor were still searching for that magic elixir that would allow her to enjoy life, I first saw the advertisement for Cymbalta. This might sound goofy, but I was really moved. So much of what was described in the ad completely matched what my friend was going through everyday, and I wondered if that might be the medication that would work for her. She ended up taking different antidepressants, but somehow I always had what I can only describe as a soft spot for Cymbalta, maybe because of the understanding of the pain and isolation of depression the manufacturer seemed to have. Or, rather, the advertising agency had. So while I was looking into other antidepressants, I kind of hoped that maybe, just maybe, Cymbalta would be different. Maybe it would be that one medication that was completely safe for everyone, even pregnant women.
Here’s where the warm fuzzy feelings for Cymbalta come to an unfortunate end. Because while it may well do wonders for people battling depression, it’s still not a safe choice for pregnant women.
Cymbalta, also known as duloxetine hydrochloride, is a Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SSNRI) that is prescribed to treat major depression, anxiety as well as chronic lower back pain, fibromyalgia and sometimes even osteoarthritis. Classified as a Category C drug by the FDA, there is reason to believe that it can cause harm to a baby, especially in the third trimester. Animal studies have revealed that duloxetine has an adverse effect on fetal and post-natal development, and was found to cause low birth weights and even lower rates of survival. Another thing to consider is that Cymbalta belongs to a family of drugs that have been found to cause many worrisome conditions in infants. These conditions include respiratory problems, feeding problems, apnea, cyanosis, seizures, tremors, hypoglycemia, an inability for the body to regulate temperature as well as hypo- and hypertonia… to name a few. All of which seem like a good reason to avoid taking Cymbalta during pregnancy, and especially during the last three months before delivery.
Of course, if you are taking Cymbalta and become pregnant, do not simply stop taking it without talking to your doctor. Your medical provider will help you make a decision about the best course of action, which might include tapering off your dosage as you enter your third trimester. Stay calm, think through your options, and make an informed decision with your healthcare provider.