- Side effects
- Sex and fertility
- Pregnancy, post-natal and breastfeeding
- Driving and transport
- School and exams
- Friends and family
- Alcohol and street drugs
- Prescription medicines
- References and further reading
- Options for treating antidepressant-induced sweating
- Zoloft Use in Substance Abuse Treatment
- When Is Zoloft Helpful in Substance Abuse Treatment?
- When Is Zoloft Unhelpful in Substance Abuse Treatment?
- What Are the Possible Side Effects?
- Zoloft (Sertraline) Addiction And Abuse
- Zoloft vs. Prozac: Differences, similarities, and which is better for you
- What are the main differences between Zoloft vs. Prozac?
- Conditions treated by Zoloft vs. Prozac
- Is Zoloft or Prozac more effective?
- Coverage and cost comparison of Zoloft vs. Prozac
- Common side effects of Zoloft vs. Prozac
- Drug interactions of Zoloft vs. Prozac
- Warnings of Zoloft vs. Prozac
- Frequently asked questions about Zoloft vs. Prozac
- What is Zoloft?
- What is Prozac?
- Are Zoloft vs. Prozac the same?
- Is Zoloft vs. Prozac better?
- Can I use Zoloft vs. Prozac while pregnant?
- Can I use Zoloft vs. Prozac with alcohol?
- Which SSRI has the least side effects?
- Is Prozac good for anxiety?
- Brand Names: US
- Brand Names: Canada
- What is this drug used for?
- What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take this drug?
- What are some things I need to know or do while I take this drug?
- What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?
- What are some other side effects of this drug?
- How is this drug best taken?
- What do I do if I miss a dose?
- How do I store and/or throw out this drug?
- General drug facts
- Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer
- Last Reviewed Date
- Sertraline and Weight Gain: What You Need to Know
- Sertraline and Weight Gain: The Basics
- Why Does Sertraline Cause Weight Gain?
- How to Avoid Weight Gain From Sertraline
- Zoloft and Weight: How Can Sertraline Affect the Body Weight?
- Zoloft Side Effects on the Body Mass
- Zoloft and Weight Gain
- Zoloft and Weight Loss
- How to Manage Weight After Discontinuing Zoloft
Some side effects that appear should go away or get better after a few days. If they do not, you should go back to your doctor.
Don’t stop taking sertraline until you talk to your doctor or you may get withdrawal symptoms as well.
Very common side effects of sertraline, affecting more than one in ten people, include:
- dizziness or headache
- sleepiness, feeling very tired, or difficulty getting to sleep
- diarrhoea (loose poo)
- feeling sick
- dry mouth
- problems with ejaculating (coming)
Common side effects, affecting up to one in ten people, include:
- sore throat, teeth grinding, or a funny taste in your mouth
- changes in your appetite (feeling hungrier or less hungry)
- having nightmares
- feeling anxious, agitated, depressed, nervous, or just strange
- less interest in sex, or problems having sex – like difficulty getting an erection
- numbness and tingling, tense muscles, having muscle pain, or shaking
- problems with focusing and concentration
- effects on your eyesight
- ringing in your ears
- palpitations, chest pain, hot flushes and sweating
- yawning a lot
- being sick or having stomach and gut pain
- having constipation, an upset stomach, lots of wind
- getting a rash
In clinical trials, young people aged under 25 were more likely than adults to get the following side effects from SSRI medicines:
- thoughts of self-harm and/or taking their own lives
- being hostile or aggressive
The most common side effects reported in children and adolescents are headache, insomnia, diarrhoea and nausea (feeling sick).
A side effect of sertraline may be weight loss or weight gain.
Gaining some weight is more likely, but it is very difficult to know how it will affect each person who takes it.
Talk to your doctor about this if it worries you.
Do not take sertraline at the same time as weight-loss products.
You can feel drowsy in the first few days of taking sertraline. This should get better after the first week or two. If it makes you feel drowsy, try taking it just before you go to bed.
You could also, strangely, get insomnia (difficulty getting to sleep), and disturbing dreams or nightmares. If this happens, try taking the tablet first thing in the morning.
If you feel like a zombie, and you’ve been taking it for more than a month, you can go back to the doctor and see what else you could do.
Sex and fertility
Sertraline can have side effects that might affect your sex life. These might include:
- a lower sex drive
- problems getting an erection (getting hard) and ejaculating (coming)
- a painful erection that lasts for a long time (priapism). If this happens to you, see a doctor for help straight away
- bleeding from the vagina and difficulty reaching orgasm (coming) the same way as before
- some growth of the breasts and milk flow, regardless of gender (this is very rare)
These effects should pass after the first couple of weeks. If they do not, and this is a problem for you, go back to the doctor and see what else you could try.
The good effects of sertraline may, after a while, have a positive impact on your sex life as your mood lifts and you become interested in life and relationships again.
There have not been any concerns about fertility problems with sertraline.
If you are trying to get pregnant,you should not take sertraline unless you have talked about it with your doctor.
Pregnancy, post-natal and breastfeeding
When deciding whether to take sertraline during pregnancy it is important to weigh up how necessary sertraline is to your health against the possible risks to you or your baby, some of which will depend on how many weeks pregnant you are.
Remaining well is particularly important during pregnancy and while caring for a baby. For some women, treatment with sertraline in pregnancy may be the best option for both mother and baby.
If you do become pregnant while you are on sertraline, you should carry on taking the medicine and go back to your doctor as soon as possible, to see if you should stop or change your medicine.
If you and your doctor agree that you will carry on taking sertraline, you should tell your midwife that you are taking it before you give birth.
There are some other symptoms that can occur in newborn babies if sertraline is taken in the last three months of pregnancy, so do look out for these and get help if they happen:
- fits or shaking
- being too hot or cold
- feeding difficulties or being sick
- having stiff or floppy muscles, or overactive reflexes
- being jittery, irritable or having constant crying
- being very sleepy or finding it difficult to sleep
These are usually mild and go away in a few days without treatment.
If sertraline is taken in the last five months of a pregnancy, it can cause a serious condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the new-born (PPHN). This can make the baby breathe faster and look a bit blue in colour. PPHN affects around 12 in 1,000 babies born to mums who take SSRIs. This compares with a rate of two in 1,000 among babies born to mums who do not take SSRIs.
PPHN appears in the first 24 hours after birth. You will need help from the midwife and doctors, so it is better if they are looking out for symptoms.
Sertraline passes to the baby through breast milk in small amounts.
Breastfeeding may help offset any withdrawal symptoms.
Please talk to your midwife, doctor or pharmacist if you want to breastfeed while taking sertraline.
Talk to your doctor or midwife about your feeding options or ask to be referred to a lactation consultant.
If your baby was premature or has health problems, then you will need to be extra careful about taking medicines while breastfeeding. It may be best not to breastfeed if this is the case, but you should discuss this with your doctor.
Driving and transport
Taking sertraline may make you feel sleepy, dizzy and restless, and could affect your eyesight when you start taking it.
This could affect you if you drive a car, ride a bike, or do anything else that needs a lot of focus. It might be best to stop doing these things for the first few days, until you know how it affects you and your body gets used to it.
Do not worry – most people drive as normal while taking sertraline.
School and exams
Try not to take sertraline for the first time just before your exams.
Sertraline can make you feel very restless in the first few weeks that you take it and may affect you when you sit or stand still.
It can also disturb your sleep, and your eyesight.
You should talk to your doctor about any future exams if you are starting sertraline. You might decide together to delay starting it until you have done them.
If they are more than a month away, however, you might find that it is better to start sertraline to improve your motivation to study.
Do not worry – most people take exams as normal while taking sertraline.
Friends and family
You may want to let your family and friends know you are taking sertraline so they can support you and help you look out for side effects.
For guidance on this, check out our page on getting support with your medication.
Sertraline is not a banned substance in sport.
Taking sertraline may affect your ability to do things like riding a bike, competitive sports or anything else that needs a lot of focus.
You may also find it difficult to sit or stand still at first.
It might be best to stop such sports for the first few days, until you know how it affects you.
Do not worry – most people play sports as normal while taking sertraline.
Alcohol and street drugs
You can continue to drink alcohol while taking sertraline, but having the two together might make you very sleepy and unsteady on your feet.
During the first few days, it might be best to stop drinking alcohol until you see how the medicine affects you, or the side effects pass.
If you want to drink alcohol, remember that you might be very sleepy and make sure you can get home safely.
Drinking alcohol every day, or in large amounts, can make your symptoms worse and the sertraline will not get the best chance to act.
Methadone and heroin can make drowsiness worse with sertraline. The sertraline could increase the concentration of methadone in your body.
SSRIs may reduce the effects of ecstasy and so might make people try higher doses and therefore get more side effects.
Taking sertraline with cocaine, ecstasy or amphetamines could bring on serotonin syndrome. You could get a high temperature/fever, agitation, confusion, trembling or weird muscle movements. You need to go to hospital if this happens. Tell the doctor that you are taking sertraline.
Sertraline does not seem to be affected by cannabis, although it may make you a bit drowsier.
Cannabis and other drugs may have their own side effects on your mental health, like anxiety or psychosis. For more information, have a look at our drugs and alcohol page.
There are many other street drugs, but we don’t know what effect taking them with sertraline will have.
Sertraline does not mix well with some other medicines and drugs.
Do not take sertraline If you are on or have taken MAOIs (drugs like phenelzine, isocarboxazid, tranylcypromine or moclobemide) in the last 14 days; you must wait until 14 clear days have passed before you can take sertraline.
Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines.
Tell the pharmacist you are taking sertraline if you buy medicines over the counter (including things you put on your skin) for common illnesses.
References and further reading
For more helpful links and information, have a look at our references and further reading page.
Options for treating antidepressant-induced sweating
Excessive sweating—diaphoresis—affects up to 22% of patients who take antidepressants.1 Diaphoresis may interfere with social and occupational activities, which can lead to medication discontinuation and prevent effective treatment. Stopping, decreasing, or changing antidepressants are options, but patients may be reluctant if the current dose has relieved their depressive symptoms. Adding a medication to reduce diaphoresis may be appropriate.
Sympathetic division of the peripheral nervous system signals cholinergic neurons to stimulate sweat gland secretion. In the CNS, thermoregulation occurs in the hypothalamus through a balanced and complex interaction among serotonergic and dopaminergic neurons.1 Consequently, oral medications to decrease sweating target peripheral or CNS neurons. Although evidence is limited to case reports, consider cholinergic and serotonergic antagonists and dopamine partial agonists to relieve antidepressant-induced diaphoresis.
Peripherally, the anticholinergic agent benztropine reduced or eliminated diaphoresis at doses ranging from 0.5 mg every other day to 1 mg/d.2,3 Dry mouth was the only reported side effect.
Centrally acting serotonin antagonists may decrease diaphoresis through the 5-HT2A receptor, which signals the hypothalamus to raise body temperature. Cyproheptadine is an antihistamine with serotonin receptor antagonism. In case reports, it reduced or eliminated sweating in doses of 4 mg once or twice daily.4 Mild sedation was the only noted adverse effect. The norepinephrine and serotonin antagonist mirtazapine reduced diaphoresis within 2 weeks of initiation at 15 mg/d with no adverse effects.5 Sweating resolved after mirtazapine was titrated to 60 mg/d.
In addition to excess serotonin activity, diaphoresis may result from decreased dopaminergic tone in the hypothalamus. Centrally acting dopamine agonists—even partial agonists—may restore homeostasis and decrease sweating. Aripiprazole, 10 to 20 mg/d, reduced sweating in 2 patients; no adverse effects were reported.6
Agents to avoid
Antiadrenergic medications such as clonidine have decreased or exacerbated diaphoresis in studies.1 Similarly, paroxetine may alleviate or cause sweating. It is difficult to attribute paroxetine’s occasional effectiveness in reducing sweating solely to its anticholinergic properties because improvement may be attributed to an initial anxiolytic effect or efficacy in treating the underlying anxiety disorder.1
Dr. Scarff reports no financial relationship with any company whose products are mentioned in this article or with manufacturers of competing products.
Hyperhidrosis is often reported as a side effect of antidepressants. A new meta-analysis examined this risk in detail to help clinicians better manage the condition.1
According to the researchers, whose study was published in Depression and Anxiety, hyperhidrosis is a problematic side effect of antidepressant treatment; it’s also called antidepressant-induced excessive sweating (ADIES).1 The authors cite findings that approximately 5% to 14% of patients taking antidepressants develop hyperhidrosis,1,2 although older studies found slightly higher percentages.3,4
Using data from 76 trials with 28,544 subjects, this study suggests that most selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are associated with hyperhidrosis, that risk is not dose-dependent, and that this effect may be associated with the dopamine transporter.1 The authors didn’t find an association between hyperhidrosis and the only atypical antidepressants for which sufficient data were available, bupropion and vortioxetine. Only randomized, double-blinded studies using adult patients treated with second-generation antidepressants for depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and a placebo control with sufficient data on hyperhidrosis as a side effect, were included in the analysis.
Sweating the details
Although hyperhidrosis was found with most antidepressants included in the meta-analysis, there were some exceptions. Of the SSRIs, fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine, citalopram, and escitalopram were all associated with increased risk of hyperhidrosis compared with placebo, but fluvoxamine was not. Compared with other SSRIs, the risk appeared to be higher for paroxetine and sertraline, but lower for fluvoxamine.
Among the SNRIs, duloxetine, venlafaxine, and desvenlafaxine all were associated with increased risk of hyperhidrosis. There were no differences in risk based on dose for either SSRIs or SNRIs. And, for both SSRIs and SSNIs, the risk of hyperhidrosis didn’t differ by patient diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or OCD.
The mechanism underlying hyperhidrosis associated with antidepressant use is probably complex and multifactorial. One hypothesis put forth by the authors is that it’s associated with the thermoregulatory effects of serotonin on the hypothalamus. To test this hypothesis and better understand the mechanism, the authors examined risk by antidepressant affinity for different receptors and found a relationship between the dopamine transporter and risk of hyperhidrosis, even after controlling for dosing. However, further research is needed to better understand this phenomenon, including its mechanism.
Hyperhidrosis was less likely with medications that had lower affinity for this receptor. No association was found with the other transporters studied, including the serotonin transporter, norepinephrine transporter, 5-HT1A, 5-HT2A, 5-HT2C, Alpha-1, Alpha-2, H1, and the M3 muscarinic transporter. The authors hypothesized that these findings are due to the effects of dopamine on thermoregulation.
What’s the take-away?
The authors note that these findings must be interpreted with caution for several reasons. First, they found evidence of publication bias for studies reporting significant differences between antidepressant treatment and placebo. Additionally, the different side effects rating protocols that were used across trials may also affect reported rates of hyperhidrosis, making it harder to compare the trial findings.
In addition, hyperhidrosis may be underreported, the authors say, because patients are embarrassed to discuss it or because they don’t realize that it could be caused by the medication. Future studies with standardized comparisons (including hyperhidrosis rating scales or physiologic measures), head-to-head comparisons of different medications, and fixed dosages would help provide more conclusive results.
Although treatments for hyperhidrosis are available, patients often don’t talk about this condition with clinicians or researchers, despite the functional impairment and distress it can cause.2 Hyperhidrosis can worsen anxiety disorder symptoms as well.1 Additionally, at least 1 study suggests that it’s a long-term side effect rather than one that improves over time.1,5
These types of effects can lead to nonadherence with treatment,3 worsening the prognosis.6 This meta-analysis provides additional information to help guide decision-making, including with regard to dosage selection.
Published: May 08, 2018
Zoloft Use in Substance Abuse Treatment
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Table of Contents Authored By Lauren Villa, MPH Reviewed By Scot Thomas, MD
Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride) is a commonly prescribed antidepressant that belongs to a group of drugs called selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs work by . Serotonin influences sleep, mood, and emotion, so boosted activity of this neurotransmitter effectively improves mood and decreases anxiety.1
Zoloft is prescribed to treat a number of health issues, such as:1
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia).
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
- Panic disorder.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Major depressive disorder.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
In addition to treating these health issues, antidepressants such as Zoloft are sometimes integrated into treatment for substance abuse. Mental health issues are commonly found alongside substance addictions. Concurrent treatment of both is referred as dual diagnosis treatment. The use of medications like Zoloft is relatively common in these programs, as underlying mental health conditions may contribute to and perpetuate substance abuse and, in many cases, must themselves be effectively managed to maximize recovery efforts and chances for sustained abstinence.
Zoloft’s efficacy in treatment has been studied and found to have varying levels of success.2,3
Discover Ways to Handle Anxiety without Medication
When Is Zoloft Helpful in Substance Abuse Treatment?
When symptoms of depression arise during abstinence, it can become increasingly difficult for the user to complete an addiction treatment program.
Given Zoloft’s efficacy in treating depression, it shows promise in helping people improve their mood as they go through the often very difficult process of drug withdrawal. For instance, when people who have struggled with cocaine abuse go through withdrawal, it is extremely common that they experience depression (or depressive symptoms).3 When symptoms of depression arise during abstinence, it can become increasingly difficult for the user to complete an addiction treatment program, potentially making relapse more likely.3
A meta-analysis of depression treatment as part of drug treatment programs included 4 studies on the effectiveness of sertraline (Zoloft). The meta-analysis found that while SSRIs may be effective in treating depressive symptoms, more studies with bigger sample sizes are needed to make broad recommendations for the inclusion of Zoloft in addiction treatment.4
If you or a loved one needs addiction treatment give us a call today at 1-888-744-0069Who Answers?. You can speak to a friendly and supportive representative about your rehab options. You deserve the best care possible, and we can help you get on the road to recovery.
Zoloft and Cocaine Addiction Treatment
While research on the use of antidepressants during withdrawal is somewhat limited, some studies have shown that the use of antidepressants like Zoloft can produce positive results (such as a reduction in cravings and a delay in relapse) in recovering cocaine abusers suffering from depression. Still, researchers note that more studies are needed to determine the dose of Zoloft that is needed to have a therapeutic effect, as lower doses (100 mg/day or less) did not produce the same positive results.3
Zoloft and Alcohol Addiction Treatment
A study conducted in 2010 looked at the efficacy of combining Zoloft (an antidepressant) with naltrexone (an opioid antagonist) to treat depressed and alcohol-dependent individuals. The study found that the combination helped to:5
- Improve depressive symptoms.
- Decrease adverse events (e.g., anxiety, nausea, sexual problems, etc).
- Prevent relapse.
These results are promising for those in addiction recovery, especially individuals suffering from co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.5
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When Is Zoloft Unhelpful in Substance Abuse Treatment?
Zoloft may not always be appropriate for those in recovery from drug abuse and addiction. For example, one specific study which looked at the effectiveness of using Zoloft during methamphetamine withdrawal produced less-than-encouraging results. People who are going through methamphetamine withdrawal often experience tiredness, depressive symptoms, and a lack of ability to experience pleasure. Given these side effects, researchers were interested in the potential for Zoloft to alleviate these symptoms during treatment.
Zoloft was not effective in reducing depressive symptoms during methamphetamine withdrawal.
However, the study found that Zoloft was not effective in reducing depressive symptoms during methamphetamine withdrawal. The group prescribed Zoloft, in fact, did not fare as well as the control group in treatment:2
- They experienced an array of negative side effects.
- They did not seem to benefit as much from behavioral therapy.
- They spent less time in treatment overall.
One possible explanation is that Zoloft is prescribed to treat major depressive disorder, and the mood disorder that meth abusers experience during withdrawal may be different. Researchers suggest that care providers should avoid prescribing Zoloft to users experiencing withdrawal from meth unless a primary depressive disorder has been diagnosed for which the antidepressant is appropriate.
What Are the Possible Side Effects?
If you are considering taking Zoloft as part of your treatment regimen for substance abuse, you should first consult with a medical care professional. They will be able to create a protocol for taking the drug and will be able to monitor your progress through treatment.
Zoloft has the potential to produce serious side effects such as suicidal thoughts, so it is imperative to use the drug safely and with medical guidance.
Zoloft side effects can include:6
- Serotonin syndrome.
- Neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
- Hyponatremia (dangerously low levels of sodium in the blood).
- Abnormal bleeding.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Decreased sex drive.
- Dry mouth.
In a study of Zoloft use among newly abstinent cocaine-dependent individuals, researchers noted that some study participants experienced sexual dysfunction and suicidal ideation during the study.3
Zoloft may also produce a set of unwanted withdrawal symptoms that may complicate a user’s recovery. Zoloft withdrawal symptoms may include:10
- Panic attacks.
- Worsening depression.
- Suicidal thoughts/attempts.
Like many drugs, Zoloft carries a risk of side effects and adverse events. There have been cases of fatalities among people who reported using Zoloft with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). MAOIs such as isocarboxazid (Marplan) are prescribed to treat depression, and combining a MAOI with an antidepressant is extremely dangerous. Zoloft should never be used with an MAOI. In addition, Zoloft is contraindicated in people who have a hypersensitivity to sertraline or any of the inactive ingredients in the drug. Finally, individuals with a seizure disorder or those at risk for suicide should always consult a doctor before using Zoloft.7Given the seriousness of Zoloft’s possible side effects (both of use and withdrawal), it should only be used when appropriate and under the supervision of a medical professional.
If you’re suffering from addiction and/or a mental health disorder, there is a program that can help you. Don’t wait until it’s too late – give us a call today at 1-888-744-0069Who Answers? to find a treatment center.
Last updated on September 5, 2019 2019-09-05T16:19:01+00:00 Finding the perfect treatment is only one phone call away!
Zoloft (Sertraline) Addiction And Abuse
Zoloft (sertraline) is used to treat various mood disorders including depression, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder (social phobia). The medication may improve your mood, sleep, appetite and energy levels, as well decrease fear, anxiety, amount of panic attacks and even thoughts of suicide.
Sertraline works by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin neurotransmitters by nerve cells, which leaves behind plenty of mood-regulating serotonin in the brain. An increase of serotonin seems to be effective in stabilizing moods, which is why it’s so helpful in treating anxiety and panic disorders.
Zoloft itself comes in the form of a tablet, capsule or liquid and is taken by mouth as directed by the prescribing doctor. The tablet form of this product can be taken with or without food. However, the capsule is usually taken after a meal. The liquid form must be mixed with another liquid before use, carefully measuring the prescribed dose using a medicine dropper. The dose should then be mixed with a half cup of water, ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, lemonade or orange juice. Your doctor should give the appropriate dosage based on your specific medical condition and response to treatment.
A small number of people (especially those younger than 25) who take anti-depressants have experienced worsening depression and other mood systems. You may also experience symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, tiredness, nausea and sleep changes, among other side effects, while taking Zoloft (sertraline). Please be sure to discuss any concerns, risks and benefits of this medication with the doctor to get a clear understanding of whether or not Zoloft is right for you.
Though it is very effective, it is also easy to misuse sertraline. It’s important to understand the facts about Zoloft addiction and what steps can be made towards recovery.
Zoloft vs. Prozac: Differences, similarities, and which is better for you
Drug overview & main differences | Conditions treated | Efficacy | Insurance coverage and cost comparison | Side effects | Drug interactions | Warnings | FAQ
If you are experiencing or living with depression, your doctor may recommend an SSRI medication to help. SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, drugs work by increasing the activity of serotonin in the brain. By increasing the level of serotonin, the medication can help balance feelings of mood and well-being.
Zoloft (sertraline) and Prozac (fluoxetine) are two SSRI prescription drugs that can treat mental health conditions like depression, panic disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Although they are two of several different SSRI antidepressants, they have some similarities and differences.
What are the main differences between Zoloft vs. Prozac?
Zoloft is the brand name for sertraline hydrochloride. While Pfizer manufactures the brand name medication, there are also generic versions available. Zoloft is a commonly prescribed antidepressant that is approved for other conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). It is available as an oral tablet or liquid solution.
Prozac is the brand name for fluoxetine. Brand-name Prozac is manufactured by Eli Lilly although generic versions are also available. Besides depression, panic disorder, and OCD, Prozac is also approved for bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder. Prozac is prescribed as a delayed-release oral capsule.
|Main differences between Zoloft vs. Prozac|
|Drug class||Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor||Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor|
|Brand/generic status||Brand and generic||Brand and generic|
|What is the generic name?
What is the brand name?
|What form(s) does the drug come in?||Oral tablet
|What is the standard dosage?||50 mg per day||20 mg once per day|
|How long is the typical treatment?||Long term depending on the condition being treated||Long term depending on the condition being treated|
|Who typically uses the medication?||Children 6 years and older (OCD); Adults||Children 8 years and older (depression); Adults|
Conditions treated by Zoloft vs. Prozac
Zoloft is primarily used for the treatment of depression, OCD, panic disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It is also approved to treat PTSD and social anxiety disorder.
Prozac is approved to treat major depression, OCD, panic disorder, and bulimia. While Prozac can be used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder, it’s marketed under a different name: Sarafem. Prozac can also treat depressive episodes in those with bipolar I disorder. Prozac can be used off-label for PTSD and social anxiety disorder.
Both Zoloft and Prozac can be used off-label to treat general anxiety, binge eating disorder, and body dysmorphic disorder.
|Depression associated with bipolar I disorder||No||Yes|
|Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)||Yes||Yes|
|Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)||Yes||Off-label|
|Social anxiety disorder (SAD)||Yes||Off-label|
|Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)||Off-label||Off-label|
|Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)||Yes||Yes|
|Binge eating disorder||Off-label||Off-label|
|Body dysmorphic disorder||Off-label||Off-label|
Is Zoloft or Prozac more effective?
Zoloft and Prozac are similarly effective for treating symptoms of depression. In a double-blind, clinical trial, both Zoloft and Prozac improved depression based on different scores for depression and anxiety as well as sleep. While both SSRIs were found to be effective, Zoloft was found to have lower severity of side effects. Out of 108 randomized patients, 9.6% of the group treated with sertraline discontinued the drug compared to 19.6% of the group treated with fluoxetine due to ineffectiveness.
In a study from the Journal of Affective Disorders, Zoloft and Prozac showed similar effectiveness in patients with depression and anxiety. The results from the study showed no significant differences in improvement and treatment with either drug. Paxil, or paroxetine, was also included in this study and was found to be comparable.
Because every individual is different, one drug may be more suitable than the other. Consult a healthcare professional to determine which SSRI will give you the best results. Sometimes, it is a matter of trial and error.
Coverage and cost comparison of Zoloft vs. Prozac
Zoloft is usually covered by many insurance plans. Since it is available as a generic, the prices will often be quite reasonable. The average retail cost for Zoloft without insurance is around $34.99 for a 30-day supply. You can save more on Zoloft with a SingleCare discount card which can lower the price from $8-18.
Prozac is usually started at a dose of 20 mg in a 30-day supply. It can be purchased without insurance for an average retail cost of around $11.18. With a SingleCare card, you can expect to only pay as low as $4 for a prescription. Prozac is available as a generic and is covered by most insurance plans.
|Typically covered by insurance?||Yes||Yes|
|Typically covered by Medicare?||Yes||Yes|
|Standard dosage||50 mg tablets||20 mg capsules|
|Typical Medicare copay||$13||$12|
Common side effects of Zoloft vs. Prozac
Since both drugs are in the same class of medications, they both have similar side effects. These side effects are often mild and resolve on their own within weeks after starting treatment. However, if they don’t go away or worsen, you may be recommended a different SSRI. Consult your doctor to discuss any side effects you may experience.
The most common side effects associated with Zoloft are nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, and tremors. The most common side effects with Prozac include nausea, nervousness, dry mouth, and indigestion. Changes in weight such as weight gain or weight loss are also common.
Other side effects for SSRIs may include sexual dysfunction, decreased libido, or impotence. Insomnia and other problems with sleep can also occur. More severe adverse effects include serotonin syndrome, a rare set of symptoms that can arise especially if you are taking other medications that increase serotonin activity.
Source: DailyMed (Zoloft), DailyMed (Prozac)
Drug interactions of Zoloft vs. Prozac
As SSRI antidepressant drugs, Zoloft and Prozac interact with many of the same drugs. Both medications can interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) and increase the risk of serotonin syndrome. Zoloft and Prozac should not be used with linezolid or intravenous methylene blue for the same reason.
Zoloft and Prozac can block the action of the CYP2D6 liver enzyme. Other drugs that are processed by this enzyme can interact with Zoloft and Prozac. These drugs include antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, antiarrhythmics, and some antidepressant drugs.
Zoloft and Prozac can interact with blood thinners such as aspirin and warfarin. Taking these medications together can increase the risk of bleeding. Consult a doctor for possible drug interactions with SSRIs.
|Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI)||Yes||Yes|
|Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)||Yes||Yes|
|St. John’s Wort||Herbal||Yes||Yes|
*Consult a healthcare professional for other drug interactions
Warnings of Zoloft vs. Prozac
Antidepressants can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts in young adults and children. Suicidal thoughts and behaviors should be monitored in individuals whose symptoms are not improving.
Zoloft and Prozac can lower the seizure threshold in some people who have a history of seizures. Therefore, these drugs should be monitored or avoided in those affected groups.
Zoloft and Prozac can cause QT prolongation, an electrical disturbance in the heart muscle. If you have a history of arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythm, you may be at an increased risk.
SSRI antidepressant drugs are usually prescribed for long-term uses. Abruptly stopping these medications can cause withdrawal symptoms such as rebound anxiety, headaches, and insomnia. When stopping these medications, they should be tapered slowly with proper medical guidance.
Zoloft and Prozac are in Pregnancy Category C. They should only be used if benefits outweigh the potential pregnancy risks. Consult a doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Frequently asked questions about Zoloft vs. Prozac
What is Zoloft?
Zoloft is an SSRI antidepressant medication that is used to treat depression and other mental health disorders. It can also be prescribed for OCD in adults and children aged 6 years or older. Zoloft is usually started at a dose of 50 mg once per day.
What is Prozac?
Prozac is an SSRI antidepressant that can treat depression, panic disorder, and OCD. It is also approved to treat bulimia and depression associated with bipolar disorder. It can be prescribed for depression in adults and children aged 8 years and older as well as OCD in adults and children aged 7 years and older.
Are Zoloft vs. Prozac the same?
No. Zoloft and Prozac are not the same. Although they both work to enhance serotonin activity, they have some different approved uses. Zoloft is FDA approved for PTSD and social anxiety disorder whereas Prozac is used off-label for these indications. Zoloft is available as an oral tablet and liquid solution. Prozac only comes as an oral capsule.
Is Zoloft vs. Prozac better?
Zoloft and Prozac are both comparable. Studies have shown no significant differences in treatment with the two. However, they may have different side effect profiles. One SSRI may be prescribed over the other depending on your symptoms.
Can I use Zoloft vs. Prozac while pregnant?
Zoloft and Prozac may be used during pregnancy if necessary. However, not enough studies have shown the effects of these drugs on babies. Consult your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Can I use Zoloft vs. Prozac with alcohol?
It is not recommended to drink alcohol while taking Zoloft or Prozac. Drinking alcohol with these medications can increase side effects such as dizziness and drowsiness.
Which SSRI has the least side effects?
Zoloft and Prozac are both well tolerated. Zoloft may produce more digestive and sexual side effects while Prozac may produce more headaches. Side effects from SSRIs are often mild and improve over time.
Is Prozac good for anxiety?
Yes. Prozac can be prescribed off-label for general and social anxiety. It may also be useful for people with both depression and anxiety.
Like any medication, antidepressants can cause side effects. The specific problems vary from drug to drug — and from person to person.
In fact, side effects are one of the main reasons that people with depression stop taking their medicine during their recovery. One study found that 65% of the 1,000 people surveyed said they had stopped taking their medicine, and half of those people cited side effects as the reason.
Yet it’s important to keep in mind that antidepressants can help you recover. The American Psychiatric Association recommends that people keep taking their medicine at least for four to five months after they recover from a first depressive episode — in order to reduce the risk of relapse. And for people who have had multiple previous episodes, the recommendation is often longer (or sometimes even to continue indefinitely).
Antidepressants such as SSRIs (Zoloft, Lexapro), SNRIs (Cymbalta, Fetzima, Pristiq), and other medications such as bupropion (Wellbutrin), mirtazapine (Remeron), vilazodone (Viibryd), and vortioxetine (Trintellix – formerly called Brintellix) generally have fewer and less severe side effects than older drugs (for instance, tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil) or imipramine (Tofranil). The side effects vary depending on the drug but can include:
- Increased anxiety
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sexual problems, such as delayed ejaculations in men and lack of orgasm in women
- Weight gain or loss
Other more serious side effects are rare but possible. Antidepressants have been linked to an increase in suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents. Talk to your doctor about symptoms to watch for during your depression recovery.
Some of the older monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) likeisocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (Emsam), and tranylcypromine (Parnate) can have severe side effects or cause dangerous interactions with other drugs or foods. They can cause blurred vision and fatigue. They may not be safe for people with heart problems. High doses can be toxic and potentially life-threatening. For these reasons, tricyclic antidepressants are less often used for the treatment of depression.
MAOIs such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), selegiline (EMSAM), and tranylcypromine (Parnate), are among the most effective of all known antidepressants. But they can cause serious interactions with some foods — like aged meats and cheeses, fermented products like soy sauce, and broad flat beans — as well as other medicines. For instance, they can be hazardous when combined with medicines such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) that can raise blood pressure, and the interactions can lead to such effects as high blood pressure that is potentially fatal. They can also be dangerous with most other antidepressants, which can then raise levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin excessively.
The FDA has also approved l-methylfolate (Deplin) in treatment of depression. Referred to as a medical food, l-methylfolate is a prescription strength form of folate. Folate is also known as vitamin B9 and is one of the essential B vitamins. It helps regulate all three of the brain’s monoamine neurotransmitters associated with moods. Side effects include hives, swelling, nausea and bloating.
This information from Lexicomp® explains what you need to know about this medication, including what it’s used for, how to take it, its side effects, and when to call your healthcare provider.
Brand Names: US
Brand Names: Canada
- Drugs like this one have raised the chance of suicidal thoughts or actions in children and young adults. The risk may be greater in people who have had these thoughts or actions in the past. All people who take this drug need to be watched closely. Call the doctor right away if signs like low mood (depression), nervousness, restlessness, grouchiness, panic attacks, or changes in mood or actions are new or worse. Call the doctor right away if any thoughts or actions of suicide occur.
What is this drug used for?
- It is used to treat low mood (depression).
- It is used to treat obsessive-compulsive problems.
- It is used to treat panic attacks.
- It is used to treat post-traumatic stress.
- It is used to treat mood problems caused by monthly periods.
- It is used to treat social anxiety problems.
- It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.
What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take this drug?
- If you have an allergy to sertraline or any other part of this drug.
- If you are allergic to this drug; any part of this drug; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
- If you have liver disease.
- If you are taking any of these drugs: Linezolid or methylene blue.
- If you are taking pimozide.
- If you have taken certain drugs for depression or Parkinson’s disease in the last 14 days. This includes isocarboxazid, phenelzine, tranylcypromine, selegiline, or rasagiline. Very high blood pressure may happen.
- If you are taking any drugs that can cause a certain type of heartbeat that is not normal (prolonged QT interval). There are many drugs that can do this. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure.
- If you are pregnant or may be pregnant. Some forms of this drug are not for use during pregnancy.
- If you have a latex allergy. The dropper has rubber.
- If you are taking disulfiram.
This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this drug.
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take this drug with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.
What are some things I need to know or do while I take this drug?
- Tell all of your health care providers that you take this drug. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
- Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how this drug affects you.
- Do not stop taking this drug all of a sudden without calling your doctor. You may have a greater risk of side effects. If you need to stop this drug, you will want to slowly stop it as ordered by your doctor.
- Avoid drinking alcohol while taking this drug.
- Talk with your doctor before you use other drugs and natural products that slow your actions.
- In depression, sleep and appetite may get better soon after starting this drug. Other low mood signs may take up to 4 weeks to get better.
- This drug may raise the chance of a broken bone. Talk with the doctor.
- This drug may raise the chance of bleeding. Sometimes, bleeding can be life-threatening. Talk with the doctor.
- This drug can cause low sodium levels. Very low sodium levels can be life-threatening, leading to seizures, passing out, trouble breathing, or death.
- Some people may have a higher chance of eye problems with this drug. Your doctor may want you to have an eye exam to see if you have a higher chance of these eye problems. Call your doctor right away if you have eye pain, change in eyesight, or swelling or redness in or around the eye.
- A severe and sometimes deadly problem called serotonin syndrome may happen. The risk may be greater if you also take certain other drugs. Call your doctor right away if you have agitation; change in balance; confusion; hallucinations; fever; fast or abnormal heartbeat; flushing; muscle twitching or stiffness; seizures; shivering or shaking; sweating a lot; severe diarrhea, upset stomach, or throwing up; or very bad headache.
- This drug may affect certain lab tests. Tell all of your health care providers and lab workers that you take this drug.
- If you are 65 or older, use this drug with care. You could have more side effects.
- This drug is not approved for use in all children. Talk with the doctor to be sure that this drug is right for your child.
- Use with care in children. Talk with the doctor.
- This drug may affect growth in children and teens in some cases. They may need regular growth checks. Talk with the doctor.
- Taking this drug late in pregnancy may raise the chance of breathing or feeding problems, low body temperature, or withdrawal symptoms in the newborn. Talk with the doctor.
- Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.
What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?
WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
- Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
- Signs of low sodium levels like headache, trouble focusing, memory problems, feeling confused, weakness, seizures, or change in balance.
- Signs of bleeding like throwing up or coughing up blood; vomit that looks like coffee grounds; blood in the urine; black, red, or tarry stools; bleeding from the gums; abnormal vaginal bleeding; bruises without a cause or that get bigger; or bleeding you cannot stop.
- Signs of a very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in the mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
- Not able to control bladder.
- A big weight gain or loss.
- Sex problems like lowered interest in sex or ejaculation problems.
- Liver problems have rarely happened with this drug. Sometimes, this has been deadly. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
- A type of abnormal heartbeat (prolonged QT interval) has happened with this drug. Sometimes, this has led to another type of unsafe abnormal heartbeat (torsades de pointes). Call your doctor right away if you have a fast or abnormal heartbeat, or if you pass out.
What are some other side effects of this drug?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
- Feeling dizzy, sleepy, tired, or weak.
- Constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, upset stomach, throwing up, or feeling less hungry.
- Dry mouth.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Sweating a lot.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to your national health agency.
How is this drug best taken?
Use this drug as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.
- Take with or without food.
- Keep taking this drug as you have been told by your doctor or other health care provider, even if you feel well.
- Take this drug with food.
- Keep taking this drug as you have been told by your doctor or other health care provider, even if you feel well.
- Only use the measuring device that comes with this liquid drug.
- Mix liquid with 1/2 cup of water, ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, lemonade, or orange juice.
- After mixing, take your dose right away. Do not store for future use.
- This drug may look hazy after mixing. This is normal.
- Keep taking this drug as you have been told by your doctor or other health care provider, even if you feel well.
What do I do if I miss a dose?
- Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
- If it is close to the time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
- Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.
How do I store and/or throw out this drug?
- Store at room temperature.
- Keep lid tightly closed.
- Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
- Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
- Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
General drug facts
- If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
- Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else’s drugs.
- Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer
This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.
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Sertraline and Weight Gain: What You Need to Know
Safe, effective and popular, sertraline is a widely used antidepressant that’s part of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of medications. In fact, it’s one of the most widely used drugs in its class, with millions of annual prescriptions written for it in the United States alone. However, like other antidepressants, there is a definitive link between sertraline and weight gain.
While not every person who uses sertraline will gain weight, studies show that people who use sertraline generally have a mild but noticeable increase in body mass over the long term.
Below, we’ve explained how drugs like sertraline and weight gain are related as well as what you should expect if you’ve been prescribed sertraline. We’ve also covered what you can do to minimize any change in your body mass after you start using sertraline or other SSRIs.
Sertraline and Weight Gain: The Basics
Antidepressants have long had a reputation for causing weight gain. While sertraline isn’t quite as closely linked to weight gain as earlier antidepressant medications, studies show that there is a link between sertraline and weight gain in the people who use it.
In a study from 2016, researchers compared different antidepressants to assess their effects on body mass. Sertraline was one of several drugs that was linked to weight gain, with users of the drug experiencing “modest weight gain” over the course of two years.
Interestingly, the study found that sertraline was more likely to cause weight gain than several other antidepressants, with sertraline users gaining an average of 5.9lbs compared to users of fluoxetine.
While this study isn’t perfect (only a small amount of people completed the entire two years of treatment), it does show that sertraline can and often does contribute to weight gain.
Why Does Sertraline Cause Weight Gain?
While scientists and doctors have long known that antidepressants can cause weight gain, there isn’t a huge amount of evidence showing why this happens.
In general, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of evidence that sertraline and other SSRIs have a direct effect on your metabolism. In one study from 2009, researchers found that sertraline did not have any significant impact on thyroid function, limiting any potential metabolic effects.
Currently, the most convincing theory is that antidepressants like sertraline can make you feel hungrier than normal. People who use sertraline might also feel less satisfied after eating food, resulting in them eating bigger portions that contain a larger amount of calories.
Weight gain from sertraline is usually gradual (most studies of SSRIs show it occuring at the six month point, but not immediately), meaning even a small increase in appetite can have a major impact on your body weight over the long term.
There’s also a possibility that recovering from depression, which sertraline is often prescribed to treat, can cause a person to regain their normal appetite and regain weight that was lost as the result of a weaker-than-normal interest in eating.
It’s also possible that sertraline and other SSRIs could block the effects of hormones that control sodium and fluid in the body, resulting in fluid retention.
So, while sertraline side effects do include weight gain, scientists still aren’t exactly sure why.
How to Avoid Weight Gain From Sertraline
While some weight gain from sertraline might be unavoidable, there are several steps that you can take to minimize the amount of weight you can from your medication:
- Weigh yourself before you start. Make sure you know how much you weigh before you start using sertraline. This makes it easier to track any change in your weight that could be from the medication.
Try to weigh yourself in the morning, before eating and after going to the bathroom for the most accurate reading.
- Maintain your normal eating habits. Sertraline might affect your appetite, causing you to feel less satisfied by food than normal. To avoid any weight gain, try to maintain your previous eating habits, such as food choices, portion sizes and meal timing.
- Stay active. If you currently exercise, it’s best to continue exercising as you normally would after starting sertraline (unless your doctor advises you not to). Exercise is also closely linked to improvements in many depression and anxiety symptoms.
- Weigh yourself every week or month. While it’s not good to obsess over your weight, weighing yourself every week or month lets you track any changes over the long term and make adjustments to your diet or activity level.
- If you gain weight, tell your doctor. If you notice a significant amount of weight gain after starting sertraline, it’s best to talk to your doctor. They might recommend making changes to your diet or activity level, or adjusting your sertraline dosage.
If you lose weight, tell your doctor. Although sertraline is generally associated with weight gain, it can also cause short-term weight loss by affecting your appetite. This is most common during the first weeks of treatment.
Despite their reputation for weight gain, SSRIs such as sertraline don’t have to have any effect on your body composition. By using the tactics above, you should be able to avoid or minimize any changes in your weight after you start taking sertraline.
Are you considering using sertraline? With more than 37 million prescriptions in the US alone, sertraline is a versatile, popular SSRI that’s used to treat everything from depression to sexual issues such as premature ejaculation.
Our 101 guide to sertraline goes into more detail on everything you need to know before using sertraline, from the medication’s main uses to sertraline dosage, potential sertraline side effects, interactions and more.
Zoloft and Weight: How Can Sertraline Affect the Body Weight?
People taking Zoloft medication are under the risk of its several side effects. Zoloft weight loss and gain are the two issues commonly faced by individuals taking this antidepressant. While sertraline can help boost mood and relieve depression, it is essential for the patient to control the weight changes during treatment.
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Table of Contents
- How Can Zoloft Affect Body Weight?
- How Zoloft Affects Weight Gain?
- Can Zoloft Cause Weight Loss?
- Can One Lose or Gain Weight After Discontinuing Zoloft?
Zoloft Side Effects on the Body Mass
There is a complex relationship between depression, Zoloft medication, and weight. Clinical studies have suggested that weight gain and loss may double the risk of developing depression. There is the hypothesis that side effects related to the changes in body mass are more likely to occur after consumption of ‘fat pharms’ for six months or longer.
Health experts say that people taking antidepressants like Zoloft, Lexapro, Prozac, and other popular SSRIs can experience certain changes to their body mass.
In a review published in the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine in 2003, is stated that SSRI antidepressant drugs could cause weight gain in individuals who are taking the drug for more than six months. The weight changes generally occur with the prolonged usage of the medication and Zoloft weight gain and loss are possible side effects of sertraline.
Zoloft and Weight Gain
Health experts state that antidepressants contain ingredients that associate with the weight gain. Sertraline, for example, may trigger food cravings, especially for carbohydrates. It may also affect metabolism.
Another possible explanation for Zoloft weight gain is when sertraline starts acting in the patient’s body they become less stressed and depressed, and that ultimately leads to regaining patient’s appetite.
This scenario is only possible in case loss of appetite is a symptom of depression. However, overeating can also be a depression symptom that can be a reason for extra pounds regardless of the taking sertraline.
Factors Affecting Weight Gain
Several factors can be a trigger for the extra pounds in individuals like:
- Individual factors like genetic interactions to sertraline including metabolism, lifestyle, hormones, stress level, exercise, dietary intake, pregnancy or breastfeeding on Zoloft, and other conditions may influence the weight gain.
- Dosage is perhaps the most important factor in the equation. Does Zoloft make people gain weight? Yes, it does. In those who take a higher dosage of sertraline. Higher dosage means that people are giving the medication more control over their nervous system than the innate homeostatic functioning. In case, if an individual experiences weight gain at a lower dose, increased dosage can double the weight gain or lead to sertraline HCL high.
- Time span over which one has been taking sertraline plays a vital role in determining how many pounds one has gained. Prolonged usage of the drug makes individuals tolerant to its effects and leads to the dosage increase.
- If patients are taking other medications or mixing sertraline with cannabis, or drinking during Zoloft treatment course, then they can’t rule out the fact that the interaction effect could increase the body mass.
Preventing Weight Gain From Zoloft
Health professionals are advising the next steps to avoid sertraline weight gain:
- Before starting on Zoloft, get weighed and report about all mass changes to concerned doctor.
- Learn the difference between having an appetite and being hungry and try to take food at the same time.
- Make more serotonin from other sources. By eating more carbs, for example.
- Avoid high proteins at dinner.
- Do exercises.
Zoloft and Weight Loss
While it is more likely for a person to get some extra pounds when taking sertraline, fat loss may also happen. If a person is burning a lot of extra calories or is following a reduced calorie diet, while being on Zoloft, the fat loss can occur.
Loss of appetite and nausea are also two possible Zoloft side effects that could lead to weight loss.
The study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology journal in 2016 stated that monkeys put on Sertraline HCL were found avoiding an increase in body fat, and insulin levels as compared to the monkeys who had just regular meals.
How to Manage Weight After Discontinuing Zoloft
People often surprised when they found out that they have gained 10-15 pounds while being on their medication post discontinuation. It can happen because drugs like Zoloft directly interact with the body functions at the core level. Metabolism, therefore, is certainly impacted making consequent weight gain just an accompanying effect from Zoloft discontinuation.
Health professionals suggest the body retaining water may also be the reason for a sudden mass gain during Zoloft discontinuation. However, once sertrlaine is removed out of the system, excess water would be lost. Unfortunately, this process could take weeks.
However, there are always methods provided by the health professionals to minimize the extra pounds gain.
Patients can minimize the weight gain risk by receiving an individually planned diet plan and exercise regime. Aerobic exercises are the best-suitable technique to lose weight being on Zoloft post discontinuation period.
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Some studies show that about 25 percent of the people who take antidepressant medications report significant weight gain. The biggest culprits are the popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft. When you add mood stabilizers to the mix, weight can shoot up even more.
Although other studies show that weight gain is usually small, and that it differs from one antidepressant to another, this is still a significant problem when treating mood disorders. Patients and their psychiatrists have been dealing with this unpleasant, unwanted, and unneeded side effect for a decade or more.
So how do you lose the weight?
Stopping the medication is not an option, although oftentimes weight is lost quite rapidly when medication is no longer required.
The weight-loss advice given in medical articles and physician offices is no different than advice given to anyone who has to lose weight regardless of what caused it to be gained: Stop eating junk food, eat more vegetables and fish, eat less red meat, drink water, and exercise.
When medication changes eating habits
One of my clients told me the following story:
My therapist gave me a diet sheet that looked like something his mother might have followed 40 years ago. He started to mumble something about weighing my food and cutting out butter and chocolate, and not cleaning my plate.
I told him that I know how to follow a healthy diet because, until I started on my meds, I was thin, athletic, and never ate junk food. What I need to know now, I told him, was how to turn off that voice in my head, which pushes me toward chips, candy, cookies, and ice cream. “Where did this voice come from?” I asked him, because I never ate these foods until I started on my medication. But he had no answer.
Needed: A weight loss plan for those on medication
Even though weight gain is now seen as an almost inevitable side effect of many antidepressants and mood stabilizers, strategies for preventing or undoing the overeating that cause it are lacking. Although there are hundreds of diet plans and many weight-loss support groups available for people who gain weight the traditional way, almost nothing is available for the formerly thin individual whose weight gain is entirely due to his or her medication.
As another client told me, “I may look like any other fat person, but I never had a problem with emotional overeating or using food to reward myself or dealing with stress. In fact, I have never been on a diet in my life because I never had a problem controlling my eating. So when I go to these meetings and hear people talk about food being their best friend or using food to relieve boredom or anxiety, I don’t know what they are talking about. I overeat because I have a persistent feeling of needing to. It is like being thirsty all the time, despite how much water you drink. And I cannot turn off that feeling.”
The ideal solution is to develop drugs that address the mood disorders without altering food intake or energy levels. But no medications that effectively treat emotional disorders have been developed which do not have the potential to cause weight gain. And no medication to halt the overeating has been found that is safe to take by people who are already on antidepressants and related medications.
One solution: A serotonin diet
Fortunately, there is a strategy that seems to work. We discovered it while treating clients many years ago in a weight-loss clinic associated with a psychiatric hospital. We developed specific dietary guidelines to make the brain increase its production of serotonin. Our research, and that of many others, had shown us another important function of serotonin. This brain chemical not only controls mood; it also shuts off appetite and brings about a sense of fullness or satiety. But the medications that are used to restore a normal emotional state by increasing serotonin’s control over mood somehow prevent serotonin from turning off the desire to eat.
Our approach was simple. We had our clients follow dietary guidelines that would make the brain make new serotonin. The medications they were taking did not increase serotonin levels in the brain; they made the serotonin already there more active. We knew from previous research that when carbohydrates were eaten on an empty stomach and without protein, a process was initiated that led to new serotonin being made in the brain. And our experiments had shown that when this happened, people felt less hungry and their carbohydrate cravings went away.
Timing your carbohydrate intake
We told our clients to eat a carbohydrate snack twice a day on an empty stomach and to eat a dinner meal that was mainly starchy foods like pasta or rice and vegetables. We told them that they could eat protein at breakfast and lunch but that protein interfered with the process leading to new serotonin being made. And since many of them were on medications that made them likely to eat two dinners, or to snack continually after dinner, we wanted to make sure that there was plenty of serotonin in their brains to turn off their evening appetite.
It worked. Even though our clients were still on the medications that were causing them to gain weight, they were able to start losing. Of course, the carbohydrates on the diet plan were low in fat to avoid unnecessary calories and the amount of carbohydrate they were permitted to eat was also portion controlled. We told them that their brains didn’t care whether the carbohydrates they ate came from doughnuts or brown rice, but they had to eat healthy, low-fat, high-fiber carbohydrates for their general health and to decrease their calorie intake.
But it turned out that this was never a problem. Our clients had been thin. They had always eaten healthily. And once that voice in their heads telling them to eat junk food was turned off, they had no problem going back to the way they had always eaten. Moreover, as soon as they saw themselves losing weight, they were eager to get back to the gym or the other physical activities that had enjoyed before their weight gain. One of our clients, who had been an avid hiker, started climbing mountains again and another signed up for long distance charity bike rides.
Weight gain on these medications could be prevented or minimized if patients followed these guidelines early in their treatment. But, as we found, the weight already gained from these medications can be lost easily simply by changing the diet.