More people everyday are prescribed serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors aka SNRIs, which are a class of antidepressant used to treat depression. There are four main SNRIs: enlafaxine (Effexor), duloxetine (Cymbalta), milnacipran (Savella), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).

Today we are going to focus on two of the most commonly used of the four, Cymbalta and Effexor. Lets take a look at some of the similarities and differences between the two drugs, so that you can make a more informed decision when choosing between the two.

Effexor is the first and most commonly used SNRI while Cymbalta was most recently released on the market. It was approved by the FDA in August of 2004.

Both drugs work by preventing serotonin and noradrenaline from being reabsorbed back into the nerve cells in the brain. Effexor has been approved to treat, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder while Cymbalta has been approved to treat major depressive disorder, diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain, generalized anxiety disorder, and fibromyalgia.

When treating depression, both drugs are similarly affective. In a randomized, double-blind study which compared Cymbalta 60 mg/day and Effexor XR 150 mg/day both Cymbalta and Effexor XR demonstrated substantial antidepressant efficacy and received a HAMD 17 total score. Both drugs are also affective at treating generalized anxiety disorder.

Effexor has also been proven affective at treating several “off label” uses as well. Many doctors are prescribing it for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy and migraine prophylaxis. Cymbalta has been recently prescribed “off label” to treat bipolar depression and new studies are also showing that it may be affective at treating painful physical symptoms associated with depression as well as stress from urinary incontinence.

Both have side effects that can range from moderate to serious. For a complete list of side effects, click here.

All in all, how affective an SNRI is for you depends on how your body reacts to the medication. One medication may work better than another for you, and not for someone else. Be sure to ask you doctor about the pros and cons of each before you determine whether Effexor or Cymbalta would be right for you.

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