Compare Elavil vs. Cymbalta

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

Elavil
(Amitriptyline)

Cymbalta
(Duloxetine)

Improves mood and relieves certain kinds of pain. Elavil (Amitriptyline) is an older antidepressant that's sometimes used to treat pain and sleep problems, but it can have more side effects than similar medications.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.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
4.466101694915254Elavil
Reviews for Elavil (Amitriptyline)
52%
of people say Elavil (Amitriptyline) is worth it
34%
say it works well
23%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Cymbalta (Duloxetine)
59%
+7% vs. Elavil (Amitriptyline)
49%
+15% vs. Elavil (Amitriptyline)
24%
1% vs. Elavil (Amitriptyline)
Side effects
ElavilCymbalta

The Elavil FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Elavil side effects »
  • 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 »
How it works
ElavilCymbalta
Elavil (Amitriptyline) is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). Researchers don't know exactly how it works. It may change serotonin and norepinephrine activity in the brain, which regulates mood and pain perception. It also has sedative effects.Cymbalta (Duloxetine) is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressant. It increases serotonin and norepinephrine activity in the brain, which regulates mood.
Type of medication
ElavilCymbalta
Antidepressant
Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
Prescription only
Antidepressant
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)
Prescription only
Available as
ElavilCymbalta
  • Pill
  • Extended release
Used for (click to learn more)
ElavilCymbalta
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.
The free Iodine Start program (personal reports and coaching) is currently only for antidepressants. For now, you can read our pharmacist info about this medication.Learn more about Elavil (Amitriptyline)

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

Risk factors for serious side effects
ElavilCymbalta
  • Age 24 years or younger
  • History of bipolar disorder
  • At risk for bipolar disorder
  • History of cardiovascular disease
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Age 65 years or older
Detailed Elavil (Amitriptyline) risks & warnings »
  • 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 »
    Pregnancy category
    ElavilCymbalta
    Alcohol
    No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
    Food
    No specific food-related info.
    • Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
    Kidneys and liver
    No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
    • Not a good option if you're a heavy drinker, or if you have liver or kidney problems.
    Sex
    No specific sex-related info.
    • 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.
    Sleep
    • Low doses of Elavil (Amitriptyline) start working in 45 minutes to help you sleep better.
    • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
    • 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.
    Weight
    • It's more likely to cause sleepiness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
    • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
    No specific weight-related info.
    Upsides and benefits
    ElavilCymbalta
    • Low doses work well to treat certain kinds of chronic pain. It can take 2 weeks to feel the full effects of the medication.
    • Low doses of Elavil (Amitriptyline) start working in 45 minutes to help you sleep better.
    • Six out of every ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
    • Effective at relieving depression and anxiety symptoms.
    • 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.
    • Six out of ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
    Downsides and risks
    ElavilCymbalta
    • When used for depression, Elavil (Amitriptyline) causes more side effects and has a higher risk of overdose than other antidepressants. It's usually used when other medications haven't worked.
    • It's more likely to cause sleepiness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
    • People age 65 and older have a higher risk for this medication's side effects.
    • Like most antidepressants, it can cause a 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.
    • 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.
    Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
    ElavilCymbalta
    • Take at bedtime to avoid some of its side effects.
    • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
    • Stop taking it slowly to avoid getting withdrawal symptoms.
    • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
    • Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
    • Full effects in 8 to 12 weeks for mood, 2 weeks for pain.
    • Stop taking slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
    • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
    Learn more
    More about ElavilSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
    More about CymbaltaSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert