Zoloft Side Effects: A Complete Guide

Mary Lucas, RN
Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN Written by Our Editorial Team Last updated 7/18/2020

Whether you’re struggling from depression or another illness, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of treatment information available. 

Some websites will tell you a certain supplement has the answer to all of your woes, while another will tout the latest prescription drug. 

When it comes to your mental health, the best sources are those that provide solid, science-based research and information. 

Zoloft® is an antidepressant drug prescribed by medical and mental health professionals. 

Like most prescription drugs, it comes with a long list of potential side effects. But the length of that list isn’t an indication that you’ll experience all or even several of the potential adverse effects. 

Do your research; then talk with a healthcare professional for medical advice. Getting help for your condition is of utmost importance, and researching the risks vs. benefits is the first step in getting help. 

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft, also sold under the generic name sertraline, is an antidepressant. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991, and is one of several drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

In addition to treating depression, Zoloft may be prescribed for the treatment of other conditions including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder and, in women, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

How Does Zoloft Work? 

Zoloft and other SSRIs influence a neurotransmitter called serotonin within the brain. Serotonin influences sleep, mood and emotions. By interrupting the reabsorption of this neurotransmitter, Zoloft and other SSRIs allow more serotonin to circulate freely in the brain.

Compared with antidepressant drugs of the past, SSRIs have far fewer side effects. They can be taken by more people, and by people with other diagnoses that may not have been able to take older antidepressants. 

These factors have made SSRIs a very popular treatment option for depression and anxiety.

Zoloft Side Effects 

Though Zoloft and other SSRIs have fewer side effects than older antidepressants, they aren’t completely free of side effects. Some of these side effects get less intense as your body adjusts to the new medication. Common side effects of Zoloft include: 

  • Headache
  • Nausea and diarrhea 
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nervousness or restlessness
  • Fatigue or sleepiness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight changes
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia or other sleep disruptions 
  • Sexual side effects including problems with ejaculation and sex drive

More serious side effects possible with Zoloft include: increased risk of bleeding events, low sodium blood levels, teeth grinding, changes in vision, suicidal thoughts and serotonin syndrome. 

If you experience any of these side effects while taking Zoloft, contact your healthcare provider right away.

Serotonin syndrome may occur when Zoloft interacts with other drugs, and results in mental status changes and hyperactivity. 

Symptoms may include: shivering, racing heart, high blood pressure, agitation, elevated body temperature, vomiting and more. Serotonin syndrome can be fatal. 

Other Zoloft Risks, Drug Interactions

Zoloft can interfere and cause serious reactions with other medications, so it’s crucial you tell your healthcare provider about all medications (prescription and over-the-counter) that you’re taking. 

Also, inform them of any vitamins or nutritional supplements you take. 

St. John’s wort is an herb that can cause serious potential problems when taken with Zoloft.

It’s important you take Zoloft as directed. The effects are not immediate, and it may take several weeks to feel the benefits of the medication. 

Your healthcare provider will likely start you at a low dosage, and slowly increase how much you’re taking until you reach maximum benefit.

Continue taking Zoloft even after you begin to feel better. Do not suddenly stop taking Zoloft, as you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, depression, mood changes, anxiety, confusion, sleep trouble and even seizures. 

When you are ready to come off of Zoloft, your healthcare provider can help you devise a plan to minimize these symptoms.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.