Zoloft (sertraline HCl) is an SSRI antidepressant manufactured by Pfizer. It was first marketed as a treatment for depression in 1992. Zoloft is now approved by the FDA for the treatment of:
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in Children, Adolescents and Adults
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) in adults
Zoloft is manufactured in scored tablets of 25, 50 and 100 mg. It is also available in a liquid oral concentrate. Your doctor may begin therapy with a low dose that is gradually increased. Zoloft is usually taken once each day and may be taken with or without food.
The most common side effects associated with Zoloft include:
- dry mouth
- decreased sex drive
- ejaculatory and orgasmic delay or impairment
- increased sweating
Some people find that many of these side effects improve after being on the medication for a while. But, if they remain bothersome, you should consult your doctor or other healthcare professional.
If you experience any of these less common side effects, you should call your doctor right away:
- agitation or irritability
You should get emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following rare, but serious, side effects:
- Allergic reaction - Hives or skin rash, difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips or tongue or difficulty swallowing.
- Problems with balance or coordination
- Suicidal thoughts
How Long Does Zoloft Take to Work?
Some people experience some improvement of symptoms within 1 or 2 weeks of starting Zoloft. However, full therapeutic effect is generally achieved in about 8 weeks.
Is Zoloft Addictive?
Based on clinical studies, Zoloft is not believed to be addictive or habit-forming.
What if I Miss a Dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember, unless it’s nearly time to take your next dose. Do not take extra Zoloft to make up the missed dose.
Precautions and Contraindications
Pregnancy. There is evidence that taking Zoloft during the third trimester of pregnancy may increase your baby’s risk of developing persistent pulmonary hypertension, which is a serious, and potentially fatal, lung disorder. If you are nursing or are pregnant, it is best to discuss the risks and benefits of Zoloft therapy with your doctor.
NSAIDs or Aspirin. Use of Zoloft with NSAIDs or aspirin may be associated with an increased risk of bleeding.
Liver or Kidney Disease. Before taking Zoloft, tell your doctor if you have impaired liver or kidney function. Depending on your condition, your doctor may need to adjust your dose and perform certain tests while on Zoloft therapy.
Alcohol. Drinking alcohol with Zoloft is not recommended.
Any SSRI antidepressant has a risk of producing a potentially life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome. This rare condition is usually the result of an interaction of two or more drugs that affect brain serotonin levels. Even some over-the-counter supplements, such as St. John’s Wort, may increase the risk of serotonin syndrome if mixed with SSRIs.
Particularly troublesome is mixing SSRIs with a class of antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs should not be taken with SSRIs, and SSRI therapy should not begin for two to four weeks after discontinuation of an MAOI, due to the increased risk of serotonin syndrome.
SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome
Before discontinuing Zoloft, talk to your doctor. Some people have reported withdrawal-like symptoms when decreasing or stopping SSRI therapy. It is believed that these symptoms are the result of the brain trying to stabilize serotonin levels after an abrupt change.
Symptoms that may occur during discontinuation of any SSRI therapy include:
- Muscle Aches
- Electric shock-like sensations in the neck and head
While all of these symptoms are not believed to be dangerous, they can be quite disconcerting. When discontinuing an SSRI, your doctor may give you a gradual reduction schedule to avoid these withdrawal-like symptoms.
The association of increased suicidal thoughts, especially among adolescents, with SSRI treatment has been a center of attention and controversy in recent years. In response to the concerns suggested in case studies and some research, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a statement in 2007. The FDA proposed that makers of all antidepressant medications indicate a warning on their products about a possible increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in young adults, ages 18 to 24, during initial treatment.
Chambers PhD, MPH, Christina, Hernandez-Diaz MD, DrPH, Sonia, VanMarten MD, MPH, Linda J, Werler ScD, Martha M, Louik ScD, Carol, Lyons Jones MD, Kenneth, Mitchell MD, Allen A. “Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors and risk of
persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.” New England Journal of Medicine 2006 354(6)579-587.
RxList. Zoloft. 09 Oct 2008.
Chambers PhD, MPH, Christina, Hernandez-Diaz MD, DrPH, Sonia, VanMarten MD, MPH, Linda J, Werler ScD, Martha M, Louik ScD, Carol, Lyons Jones MD, Kenneth, Mitchell MD, Allen A. “Selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors and risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.” New England Journal of Medicine 2006 354(6)579-587.
RxList. Zoloft. 09 Oct 2008.