The side effects of Zoloft are similar to those of other SSRI drugs and typically dissipate with time. In this article, we are going to discuss about this antidepressant, its uses and recommended dosage, as well as side effects you need to know of before commencing treatment.
Zoloft (sertraline) belongs to a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Initially, the drug was approved to treat Major Depressive Disorder. In 2002, the United States FDA approved the drug for use in children six years of age and older suffering from severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The FDA added a boxed warning to Zoloft regarding suicidal behavior in children and young adults aged 18 to 24.
General Information about Zoloft
In the early 1970s, Reinhard Sarges, a chemist working at Pfizer, started working with a new series of psychoactive compounds. His work led to him developing tametraline, a norepinephrine and weaker dopamine reuptake inhibitor. However, the development of tametraline was stopped because the scientists were seeing undesired stimulant effects in the laboratory animals receiving tametraline.
In 1977, Kenneth Koe, a pharmacologist at Pfizer, became interested in the tametraline series after he compared the structural features of numerous reuptake inhibitors. Koe asked another Pfizer chemist, Willard Welch, to synthesize some unexplored tametraline derivatives. Welch created several potent norepinephrine and triple reuptake inhibitors. However, the scientists were surprised when a serotonin reuptake inhibitor surfaced.
Welch created steroisomers of the compound, and they were tested on laboratory animals by Albert Weissman, an animal behavioral scientist. The isomer shown to be the most potent and selective was further developed. The compound was eventually named sertraline.
The United States FDA approved sertraline in 1991 based off the Psychopharmacological Drugs Advisory Committee’s recommendation. While Zoloft was initially approved to treat Major Depressive Disorder, it’s also utilized in the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. To date, it’s not fully understood how Zoloft works. It’s thought that Zoloft restores a chemical imbalance in the brain and that it positively affects communication between the nerve cells located in the central nervous system.
7 Side Effects of Zoloft You Need to Know about
Many side effects of Zoloft are similar to other SSRI antidepressant side effects:
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction. Signs of anaphylaxis include coughing, wheezing, tightness or pain in your chest, hives, red, itchy, or swollen skin, rapid heartbeat, trouble breathing, shortness of breath, swollen or itchy throat, tightness in your throat, hoarse voice, trouble swallowing, weak pulse, paleness, general weakness, fainting, dizziness, confusion, itchy or swollen tongue or lips, stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Some side effects of Zoloft are gastrointestinal in nature. You may experience mild nausea, constipation, stomach pain, or an upset stomach.
3. Sexual Side Effects
Other side effects of Zoloft are related to sexual performance. For instance, you may experience decreased sex drive, difficulty having an orgasm, or impotence while taking Zoloft.
Side effects of Zoloft also include tiredness and drowsiness.
You may also experience appetite and weight changes while taking this medication.
5. Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is one of the most common side effects of Zoloft. Dry mouth occurs when your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth moist, and it is a common side effect of many antidepressants.
Dizziness is another one of the most common side effects of Zoloft you may experience when taking the medication.
7. Mood and Behavior Changes
Mood and behavior changes should be reported to your doctor right away. Notify your doctor at once if you feel anxious, have panic attacks, feel impulsive, agitated, hyperactive, irritable, more depressed, have suicidal thoughts, thoughts of harming yourself, or trouble sleeping.
Main Uses of Zoloft and Recommended Doses
Zoloft is utilized in the treatment of several psychiatric disorders:
1. Major Depressive Disorder
Major Depressive Disorder is characterized by a depressed mood and loss of interest in activities. Fatigue, changes in appetite, changes in sleeping habits, feeling worthless or guilty, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of death or suicide may also occur with Major Depressive Disorder. Zoloft is thought to help those with Major Depressive Disorder by resolving a chemical imbalance in the brain.
For adults aged 18 and older, an initial dose of 50 milligrams of Zoloft is usually given. This dose is taken once a day by mouth. A maintenance dose of 50 to 200 milligrams once a day is recommended for adults with Major Depressive Disorder.
2. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) develops in some individuals after they have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. PTSD is characterized by re-experiencing, cognitive and mood, avoidance, and arousal and reactivity symptoms.
Medications prescribed for PTSD act upon neurotransmitters related to the anxiety and fear circuitry in the brain, such as serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and norepinephrine. In some people with PTSD, there’s a deficiency of amygdala serotonin transport. The level of this particular neurotransmitter can be regulated in the central and peripheral nervous systems by SSRIs, such as Zoloft.
For adults aged 18 and older, an initial dose of 25 milligrams once per day is recommended. The dose is generally increased to 50 milligrams once a day after one week. Recommended maintenance doses range between 50 and 200 milligrams taken once a day.
3. Social Anxiety Disorder
Those who have Social Anxiety Disorder (social phobia) have an extreme fear of being judged or criticized in performance or social situations. It’s believed that Zoloft resolves a chemical imbalance in the brain that can help relieve anxiety.
It’s recommended that adults 18 years of age and older begin with 25 milligrams of Zoloft once a day. The dose should be increased to 50 milligrams after one week. The recommended maintenance dose to treat Social Anxiety Disorder in adults is between 50 and 200 milligrams daily.
4. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can have obsessions, compulsions, or both. Obsessions are repeated, intrusive thoughts, mental images or urges that cause anxiety. Compulsions are repeated behaviors done in response to obsessions. It’s not fully understood how Zoloft helps treat OCD. However, scientists do know that Zoloft increases serotonin in the brain and that it positively affects communication between the nerve cells in the central nervous system.
It’s recommended that adults aged 18 and older begin a Zoloft regimen with a dose of 50 milligrams each day. The recommended maintenance dose for adults is 50 to 200 milligrams of Zoloft taken once a day. For children aged six to 12 years old, 25 milligrams is the initial recommended dose of Zoloft for OCD. The recommended maintenance dose is between 50 and 200 milligrams daily. The initial recommended dose of Zoloft for OCD in children aged 13 to 17 years old is 50 milligrams. The recommended maintenance dose is 50 to 200 milligrams daily.
5. Panic Disorder
Individuals with Panic Disorder have seemingly unexpected, unprovoked panic attacks. These individuals are also preoccupied with the fear of recurring attacks. Zoloft increases serotonin in the brain, which helps balance brain chemistry. The increase in serotonin helps reduce the number and severity of panic attacks in those who suffer with Panic Disorder.
The initial recommended dose of Zoloft to treat Panic Disorder in adults 18 years of age and older is 25 milligrams once a day; this dose is increased to 50 milligrams a day after one week. The recommended maintenance dose is 50 to 200 milligrams daily.
6. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a condition in which a woman suffers from severe depression, tension, and irritability before menstruation. Zoloft can help balance brain chemistry, and this helps relieve the physical and emotional symptoms of PMDD.
Women can take Zoloft continuously or on a cyclic regimen to treat PMDD. An initial dose of 50 milligrams followed by a maintenance dose of 50 to 150 milligrams per day is recommended for women taking Zoloft continuously to treat PMDD. Women can also take Zoloft on a cyclic regimen for PMDD. It’s recommended that women take 50 to 100 milligrams daily beginning 14 days prior to the anticipated menstruation and stop after the first full day of menstruation.
Zoloft is a commonly prescribed SSRI antidepressant to treat Major Depressive Disorder, anxiety disorders, and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. As with any other medication, you may initially experience side effects when you begin taking Zoloft. Common Zoloft side effects tend to dissipate over time. Remember that you should always talk with your doctor before starting or stopping any medication, including Zoloft.