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Zoloft Medication Profile

Bipolar Medications Library

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Updated September 26, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Zoloft medication is a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI. It works by making more of the brain hormone serotonin available between nerve cells. The generic form of Zoloft medication is sertraline hydrochloride.

Conditions Treatable with Zoloft

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Zoloft for the treatment of adults over age 18 diagnosed with:

Zoloft is also approved for OCD in children and adolescents aged 6-17 years.

Important Cautions About Zoloft Medication

  • You should not take Zoloft if you're taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), and there should be a two-week break between stopping or starting Zoloft and starting or stopping an MAOI. Serious, even fatal, complications can occur when these types of drugs are combined.
  • The manufacturer advises that you should not drink alcohol while taking Zoloft.
  • Do not discontinue Zoloft without talking to your doctor. You should also not stop taking Zoloft all at once to avoid SSRI discontinuation syndrome.
  • It could take up to eight weeks before your medicine has its full effect.
  • Be aware that any antidepressant has the possibility of triggering hypomania or mania.
Dosage and Administration of Zoloft Medication
  • The initial dosage of Zoloft is generally 25-50 mg, depending on the age of the patient and the illness being treated.
  • The maximum recommended dose is 200 mg.
  • Take Zoloft once daily, morning or evening.
  • Zoloft can be taken with or without food.
Zoloft and Pregnancy

In March 2006 Health Canada issued a warning for SSRI antidepressants saying that there could be complications for infants born to mothers taking any of these medications, including Zoloft, during the third trimester of pregnancy. The manufacturer's prescribing information states, "Zoloft should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus."

Zoloft Side Effects

The most common side effects of Zoloft include:

  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • diarrhea or loose stools
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • increased sweating
  • nausea
  • stomach or abdominal cramps, gas, or pain
  • tiredness or weakness
  • trembling or shaking
  • trouble sleeping
  • sexual side effects
All SSRI antidepressants have some potential to cause weight gain.

Major Warnings Regarding Zoloft Medication

The FDA has mandated that all SSRI antidepressants carry a warning contained in a bold black box regarding the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents and young adults. Read the antidepressant box warning.

According to RxList.com, approximately 5.5% of persons who overdosed on Zoloft are known to have died or suffered serious aftereffects.

Disclaimer: This profile is not intended to be all-inclusive or to replace information provided by your doctor or with the prescription from the manufacturer.

References:

  • Zoloft. 12 Feb 2012.
  • Zoloft / sertraline hydrochloride. RxList. 10 September 2005. 20 July 2006.
  • "Advisory - Newer antidepressants linked to serious lung disorder in newborns." Health Canada. 10 March 2006.
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