Sertraline Side Effects

sertraline side effectsWhat Is Sertraline?

Sertraline is an anti-depressive drug, also known as Lustral or Zoloft. It is recommended for the treatment and management of various major depressions, dysthymia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder. Sertraline is also recommended for social phobia, agoraphobia and panic disorder. Also, this antidepressant has shown great results in patients with body dysmorphic disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

The effects of sertraline are comparable to the tricyclic anti-depressive drugs, but under medication with sertraline, patients have experienced much less side effects. Therefore, medication with this antidepressant will allow outpatients to experience a much better quality of life.

Sertraline it’s also known to help patients with vascular headaches and premature ejaculation. However, evidence regarding the efficiency of using this antidepressant for these conditions is less solid. For these conditions, more focused drugs are recommended, like Dapoxetine for premature ejaculation and Ibuprofen for vascular headaches.

Overall, sertraline is considered a drug with mild effect, but really helpful for anxiety and depression, and with less chances of side effects. However, just like for any other drug, there’s quite a range of sertraline side effects that may occur.

Sertraline Side Effects

Most of the sertraline side effects are characterized as mild. However, the most frequent adverse effects of this antidepressant are the ones of sexual nature.

One of the intro sertraline side effects that has been shown in 16% of the patients is akathisia, or the increased inner tension and restlessness. This condition usually occurs in the first days of treatment with this drug. Akathisia symptoms are visible after several hours from the intake of the drug. This side effect can only be avoided if the doses of sertraline are diminished or medication stopped. Increasing the dosage will only amplify the symptoms of akathisia.

A few other rather common sertraline side effects are: nausea, lethargy, dry mouth and a thirst sensation, insomnia, diarrhea and in rarer cases constipation. Some of the often registered sertraline adverse effects after the interruption of the treatment are nausea, diarrhea and insomnia.

Studies have shown that under long-term medication with sertraline, some patients might gain weight, or gain more weight as opposed to the treatment with other anti-depressive drugs, like Prozac. In general the weight gain isn’t significant, but some of the patients (mostly women) have gained more that 7% of their total body weight after a prolonged period of medication with sertraline. However, so far there weren’t any studies focused only on the weight gain aspect under the treatment with sertraline, and the significance of this aspect is less solid.

Some of the more serious sertraline side effects are of sexual nature. Patients under medication with this anti-depressive drug may experience various sexual dysfunctions like: impotence, decreased libido, sexual arousal disorder, ejaculation failure, anorgasmia or difficulties in achieving orgasm, genital anesthesia or sexual anhedonia. That’s quite a list, but most of these sertraline side effects are reversible. However, there’s the possibility they may persist for months or even years after the interruption of the treatment with this drug.

For patients that experience adverse effects under medication with sertraline, an alternative antidepressant is bupropion.

Due to the abrupt discontinuation of treatment with sertraline, the SSRI discontinuation syndrome may occur. In patients diagnosed with depression, the symptoms of the SSRI discontinuation syndrome consist in: irritability, nervousness, dizziness, headaches, nightmares, anger, emotional lability and crying. In general, a third of patients experience negative mood changes due to the abrupt interruption of medication with this anti-depressive drug.

Lastly, overdosage with sertraline leads to vomiting and lethargy, and in severe cases to tachycardia and seizures.

Sertraline Interactions and Contraindications

Since sertraline has quite a slow elimination process, it’s not recommended to be associated with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). In conjunction with any MAOI drug, a patient’s exposure to sertraline intoxication is increased by up to three times. Patients that also have a history with a liver disease or liver problems should be monitored with extra attention if under medication with sertraline.

Sertraline is a slight inhibitor of various enzymes, like CYP2B6, CYP2D6, CYP3A4. Due to this fact, it may cause increased blood levels of , nortriptyline, imipramine, desipramine, dextromethorphan and metoprolol. Also, sertraline inhibits the assimilation of certain other drugs, like diazepam, warfarin and tolbutamid.

Sertraline should also not be taken with disulfiram (a drug used to treat alcoholism), because it contains alcohol.

In general, it’s best to notify your doctor about any other drugs you’re taking if you’re diagnosed with depression, or if they are about to prescribe a new treatment. This is the best way to avoid any drug interactions and any unwanted or severe side effects, and in this case, any sertraline side effects.

There is a low risk for sertraline to interfere with pregnancy and with the health of the fetus, this drug associated with various birth defects: limb reduction, septal defects, anal atresia and omphalocele. Therefore, this drug should not be administered during pregnancy. However, studies have shown that there’s no potential danger for the babies of breast-feeding mothers under treatment with sertraline.

Although sertraline is an antidepressant, it may induce suicidal thoughts and suicidal behavior. To patients that already show suicidal behavior this drug should not be prescribed since it can accentuate this behavior. Due to this fact, FDA requires this drug to be commercialized with a black box warning.

FinalĀ Advice

If you start medication with sertraline, you should know that the effects of the drug won’t start to show right away. Treatment with this anti-depressive drug is usually long term. Improvements, especially in case of depression should show up only after 4-6 weeks. However, in case you will experience any of the sertraline side effects, they will probably occur in short term after you start the treatment, and persist for the whole duration of the treatment.

For the duration of the treatment, it’s best to visit your doctor regularly, so that they adjust the dosage if needed. They can also tell you how to alleviate some of the sertraline side effects in case you experience any.

Sertraline is “best served” once per day. Taken with food, before or after a meal does not influence its absorption or boost its effect. However, grapefruit juice may inhibit the elimination of sertraline from your system, so it’s best not to be consumed while on medication with this drug.

Since this antidepressant, as well as most antidepressants, may cause dizziness and somnolence, it’s best not to operate heavy machinery or drive if under medication with sertraline.