Drug vs. Drug

Cymbalta vs Zoloft: Main Differences and Similarities

By | June 24, 2019

Cymbalta (duloxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) are two medications that can treat depression among other psychiatric disorders. While they treat similar conditions, they work in different ways. Cymbalta is a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) while Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Read further to see how these medications differ.

Cymbalta

Cymbalta is the brand name for duloxetine. It works as an SNRI to increase the activity of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. While Cymbalta can treat depression and anxiety, it is also approved to treat nerve pain from diabetes as well as chronic muscle pain.

Cymbalta can be purchased as a generic oral capsule in strengths of 20 mg, 30 mg, and 60 mg. It is generally dosed once per day although exact instructions will depend on your doctor’s evaluation. Dosing also needs to adjusted in those with kidney or liver problems.

Zoloft

Zoloft is the brand name for sertraline. As an SSRI, it works to increase the activity of serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain. Zoloft can treat depression and anxiety disorders as well as other conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Zoloft can be purchased as a generic oral tablet in strengths of 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg. It is often prescribed once daily to treat depression although this depends on your doctor’s prescription. Dosing needs to be adjusted in those with liver problems.

Cymbalta vs Zoloft Side by Side Comparison

Cymbalta and Zoloft are two medications that can treat similar conditions. Despite their similar uses, they also differ in some ways. Their differences can be found in the table below.

Cymbalta Zoloft
Prescribed For
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN)
  • Musculoskeletal pain (chronic)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder (PD)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PDD)
Drug Classification
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI)
Manufacturer
Common Side Effects
  • Somnolence
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased appetite
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased libido
  • Increased sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Somnolence
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased appetite
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased libido
  • Increased sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Agitation
  • Shaking
Is there a generic?
Is it covered by insurance?
  • Varies according to your provider
  • Varies according to your provider
Dosage Forms
  • Oral capsule, delayed release
  • Oral tablet
    Oral solution
Average Cash Price
  • $284 for a supply of 30, 60 mg delayed-release capsules
  • $365 for a supply of 30, 100 mg oral tablets
SingleCare Discount Price
Drug Interactions
  • MAO inhibitors (isocarboxazid, phenelzine, selegiline, tranylcypromine)
  • CYP1A2 inhibitors (fluvoxamine, cimetidine, ciprofloxacin, enoxacin)
  • CYP2D6 inhibitors (paroxetine, fluoxetine, quinidine)
  • Other SSRIs
  • SNRIs
  • NSAIDs
  • Aspirin
  • Warfarin
  • Lorazepam
  • Temazepam
  • Theophylline
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Steroidal agents
  • Lithium
  • Tramadol
  • Buspirone
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Alcohol
  • CNS drugs
  • Thorazine
  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Desipramine
  • MAO inhibitors (isocarboxazid, phenelzine, selegiline, tranylcypromine)
  • CYP2D6 inhibitors (fluoxetine, paroxetine, etc.)
  • CYP2D6 substrates
  • (venlafaxine, nortriptyline, etc.)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline, nortriptyline, imipramine)
  • Beta-blockers (atenolol, metoprolol, etc.)
  • Other SSRIs
  • SNRIs
  • NSAIDs
  • Warfarin
  • Aspirin
  • Amphetamines
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Amiodarone
  • Pimozide
  • Triptans
  • Fentanyl
  • Tramadol
  • Buspirone
  • Cimetidine
  • Lamotrigine
  • Phenytoin
  • Carbamazepine
  • Propafenone
  • Atomoxetine
Can I use while planning pregnancy, pregnant, or breastfeeding?
  • Cymbalta is in Pregnancy Category C. Animal studies have shown evidence for potential fetal harm. Adequate studies have not been performed in humans. Consult a doctor regarding steps to take while pregnant and breastfeeding
  • Zoloft is Pregnancy Category C. Animal studies have shown adverse effects to the fetus. Adequate studies have not been performed in humans. Consult a doctor regarding steps to take while pregnant and breastfeeding.

Summary

Cymbalta (duloxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) are two medications prescribed to treat depression and anxiety disorders. However, Cymbalta works by increasing the effects of serotonin and norepinephrine while Zoloft primarily works on serotonin in the brain.

Cymbalta may be preferred for someone who has depression along with muscle pain or nerve pain. Zoloft, on the other hand, may be preferred for someone with depression and OCD.

Both medications are usually taken once daily for symptoms of depression. They also have similar side effects such as somnolence, nausea, and indigestion although these side effects usually go away with long-term use. Both medications can also interact with other drugs such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors and other serotonergic drugs.

Discuss these medications with your doctor. Depending on your overall condition, one drug may be preferred over the other especially if you have symptoms from other conditions. The information presented is meant to be a brief comparative overview of two different medications