Compare Cymbalta vs. Paxil

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Cymbalta
(Duloxetine)

Paxil
(Paroxetine)

Improves mood and relieves certain kinds of pain. Cymbalta (Duloxetine) is good for treating depression and anxiety, and may help with chronic pain. More likely than other antidepressants to cause problems if you drink or have high blood pressure.Improves mood and helps you relax. Paxil (Paroxetine) is good for treating depression and anxiety but it causes more weight gain, sleepiness, and withdrawal symptoms than other antidepressants.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
4.873479318734793Cymbalta
Reviews for Cymbalta (Duloxetine)
59%
of people say Cymbalta (Duloxetine) is worth it
49%
say it works well
24%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Paxil (Paroxetine)
52%
7% vs. Cymbalta (Duloxetine)
39%
10% vs. Cymbalta (Duloxetine)
23%
+1% vs. Cymbalta (Duloxetine)
Side effects
CymbaltaPaxil
  • Nausea 15%
  • Dry mouth 8%
  • Drowsiness 8%
  • Constipation 7%
  • Somnolencee 7%
  • Decreased appetite 7%
  • Fatigued 6%
  • Sleep difficulty 5%
  • Dizziness 4%
  • Fatigue 4%
More Cymbalta side effects »
  • Abnormal ejaculation† 27%
  • Ejaculatory disturbance 26%
  • Nausea 22%
  • Dry mouth 19%
  • Drowsiness 17%
  • Lower sex drive 11%
  • Diarrhea 11%
  • Sleep difficulty 11%
  • Constipation 10%
  • Decreased libido 10%
More Paxil side effects »
How it works
CymbaltaPaxil
Cymbalta (Duloxetine) is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressant. It increases serotonin and norepinephrine activity in the brain, which regulates mood.Paxil (Paroxetine) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. It increases serotonin activity in the brain, which regulates mood.
Type of medication
CymbaltaPaxil
Antidepressant
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)
Prescription only
Antidepressant
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
Prescription only
Available as
CymbaltaPaxil
  • Extended release
  • Pill
  • Extended release tablet
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
CymbaltaPaxil
How well it works for depression
The free Iodine Start program helps people track how well they are improving, and find the right antidepressant faster.

After 4 weeks using Start and Cymbalta (Duloxetine), here’s how much better people feel.

After 4 weeks using Start and Paxil (Paroxetine), here’s how much better people feel.

Risk factors for serious side effects
CymbaltaPaxil
  • Age 24 years or younger
  • Using other medications that affect serotonin
  • Stopping Cymbalta (Duloxetine) suddenly
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Taking other blood-thinning drugs
    • History of bipolar disorder
    • At risk for bipolar disorder
    Detailed Cymbalta (Duloxetine) risks & warnings »
    • Age 24 years or younger
    • Using other medications that affect serotonin
    • Stopping Paxil (Paroxetine) suddenly
    • Taking other blood-thinning drugs
      • History of bipolar disorder
      • At risk for bipolar disorder
        Detailed Paxil (Paroxetine) risks & warnings »
        Pregnancy category
        CymbaltaPaxil
        CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

        Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

        See the FDA package insert
        DFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

        Research studies with real people found harmful effects on unborn babies, but the benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

        See the FDA package insert
        Alcohol
        No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
        Food
        • Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
        • Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
        Kidneys and liver
        • Not a good option if you're a heavy drinker, or if you have liver or kidney problems.
        No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
        Sex
        • Cymbalta (Duloxetine) can cause lower sex drive or difficulty having an orgasm. If the problem persists after the first 2 to 3 months, you can talk to your doctor about alternative antidepressants or performance-enhancing medications.
        • Can cause more sexual side effects like low libido and an inability to orgasm or ejaculate than most antidepressants.
        • Paxil (Paroxetine) can cause lower sex drive or difficulty having an orgasm. If the problem persists after the first 2 to 3 months, you can talk to your doctor about alternative antidepressants or performance-enhancing medications.
        Sleep
        • Stopping Cymbalta (Duloxetine) suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, agitation, flu-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, and dizziness. Withdrawal symptoms usually occur within 3 days of stopping the medication, and go away within 1 to 2 weeks. Work with your doctor to gradually reduce your dose.
        • It causes drowsiness, so it's good for people who have trouble sleeping.
        • Stopping Paxil (Paroxetine) suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, agitation, flu-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, and dizziness. Withdrawal symptoms usually occur within 3 days of stopping the medication, and go away within 1 to 2 weeks. Work with your doctor to gradually reduce your dose.
        Weight
        No specific weight-related info.
        • More likely to cause minor weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) or make you feel sick if you miss a dose than other antidepressants.
        • Can cause weight gain, which can be helpful if you've recently lost weight or have a low appetite.
        Upsides and benefits
        CymbaltaPaxil
        • Lowers relapse rates for depression.
        • Can relieve some types of chronic pain. Might be particularly good at pain relief for people who are also depressed.
        • Effective at relieving depression and anxiety symptoms.
        • Six out of ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
        • Lowers relapse rates of depression and anxiety disorders, including OCD, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
        • It causes drowsiness, so it's good for people who have trouble sleeping.
        • Can cause weight gain, which can be helpful if you've recently lost weight or have a low appetite.
        • Effective at relieving depression and anxiety symptoms.
        • Six out of ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
        Downsides and risks
        CymbaltaPaxil
        • Not a good option if you're a heavy drinker, or if you have liver or kidney problems.
        • Not the best option for people with high blood pressure.
        • Like most antidepressants, can cause higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people age 24 and younger.
        • The first antidepressant you try doesn't always work or it can cause side effects you really don't like. You might need to try a few different medications until you find one that works for you.
        • Can cause more sexual side effects like low libido and an inability to orgasm or ejaculate than most antidepressants.
        • More likely to cause minor weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) or make you feel sick if you miss a dose than other antidepressants.
        • Can harm an unborn child, so you can't take it if you're pregnant.
        • Like most antidepressants, it can cause a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people younger than age 24.
        • The first antidepressant you try doesn't always work or it can cause side effects you really don't like. You might need to try a few different medications until you find one that works for you.
        Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
        CymbaltaPaxil
        • Full effects in 8 to 12 weeks for mood, 2 weeks for pain.
        • Stop taking slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
        • Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
        • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
        • Takes about 8 to 12 weeks to see the medication's full effects on your mood.
        • Stop taking it slowly to avoid getting withdrawal symptoms.
        • The controlled-release (CR) tablet can cause less nausea than other forms.
        • Don’t crush, break, or chew the Paxil (Paroxetine) controlled-release tablet or the Pexeva film-coated tablets.
        • It’s best to take Paxil (Paroxetine) in the morning, except Brisdelle, which can be taken at bedtime.
        • Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
        • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
        Learn more
        More about CymbaltaSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
        More about PaxilSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert