Zoloft (Sertraline) is an antidepressant used to treat a number of psychiatric disorders such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, and a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMDD). Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and helps to restore the balance of a natural substance, serotonin, in the brain. It works by increasing appetite, energy level, and mood which may restore one’s interest in daily life. Zoloft also works to decrease negative symptoms such as anxiety, negative and unwanted thoughts, fear, and the number of panic attacks. Sertraline is the generic alternative of Zoloft and is available.
Always use Zoloft as directed by one’s physician. Sertraline is available in an oral and liquid form. Both versions may be taken with or without food. The oral capsule is usually taken once daily in the morning or evening or as otherwise specifically directed by your doctor. Take the capsules whole without crushing or chewing them. The liquid form of Zoloft must be mixed with another liquid before use. Always use the precise dropper provided to ensure you get the correct dose. Mix the dose with half a cup (4 oz) of water, orange juice, or lemonade/lemon-lime soda. The mixture may appear cloudy, which is normal. Drink the mixture immediately. Do not prepare the mixture in advance. It is meant to be consumed right away.
Based on your medical history, your doctor may start you on a low dose and increase it slowly based on your response. For this reason, it’s important you follow your doctor’s directions very carefully. Take the doses regularly to see the most benefits of the treatment. Take the doses consistently, even if you don’t feel any symptoms. This medication should not be stopped abruptly as it can cause some conditions to become worse if done so. Always consult your doctor if you choose to stop this medication. Your doctor may decide to gradually taper you off the medication. This avoids negative side effects such as mood swings, sleep changes, headaches, and brief feelings similar to the electric shock that can occur when coming off medications such as Zoloft. If you have any questions or concerns about Zoloft (Sertraline), tell your doctor as soon as possible.
Prior to using Sertraline, tell your doctor:
- If you are allergic to it or any other allergies you do have
- If you have a personal or family medical history of bipolar/manic-depressive disorder, seizure disorder, thyroid disease, bleeding problems, glaucoma, and conditions pertaining to heart problems
- Of all other medications, you are currently taking.
After using Sertraline, tell your doctor immediately:
- if you feel symptoms of QT prolongation (heart rhythm condition) such as fast or irregular heartbeat, dizziness, or fainting. Low levels of potassium or magnesium in the blood, using certain drugs, or having certain conditions such as severe sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting may increase the risk of QT prolongation.
- If you use marijuana (cannabis) as it can make the dizziness or drowsiness sometimes caused by Sertraline worse
Consult your doctor about using this medication safely if you:
- have diabetes, alcohol dependence, or liver disease as you may react to the alcohol inSertraline
- plan to, become, or think you are pregnant
- are breast-feeding
If your condition doesn’t improve or worsens, let your physician know immediately.
Side effects include but are not limited to:
- dizziness or drowsiness
- nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, upset stomach or dry mouth
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects such as:
- easy bruising or bleeding
- muscle weakness or cramping - shaking/tremors
- unusual and unexplained weight loss
Get immediate medical help if you experience any of these rarer symptoms:
- fast or irregular heartbeat
- widened pupils, vision changes, or any kind of eye pain/redness
- a painful or prolonged erection lasting 4 hours or more - a very serious allergic reaction such as rash/itching/swelling, especially of the face, tongue, and throat.
Sertraline can rarely cause a condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity which is increased if you also take other drugs that increase Serotonin. Get immediate medical help if you developany of these symptoms:
- hallucinations, severe dizziness, loss of coordination
- unexplained fever
- muscle twitching
- unusual agitation or restlessness
If any of these effects persist or worsen immediately tell your doctor or pharmacist.
Q: How long until I feel better after starting Zoloft?
A: It may take up to 4 weeks before one’s symptoms improve. It is advised to be consistent and patient with this medication in order to reap the most benefits.
Q: If I don’t like how I feel on Zoloft can I just stop taking it?
A: With a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) like Zoloft, it is best to consult your physician with decisions about how to stop the medication. Based on the severity of the side effects, your doctor may advise you to be patient while you adjust to the drug or slowly decrease your dose safely.