Zoloft and Bipolar Disorder: What Are the Side Effects

Zoloft Side Effects: What are they?

Zoloft (isoprinal) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). SSRIs have been used since the 1980’s to treat depression and anxiety. They work by increasing the amount of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a chemical that helps regulate mood and feelings of happiness or sadness. When it gets too low, you feel sad, depressed and anxious. Too much serotonin causes manic episodes. However, when too little serotonin is produced in your brain, you become lethargic and irritable. SSRIs are considered safe if taken correctly. They don’t cause any dangerous side effects like other drugs do.

The most common side effect of zoloft is sleepiness or drowsiness which lasts only a few hours after taking the drug and then disappears within 24 hours. Other possible side effects include:




weight loss (especially of the face) and weight gain (particularly of the hands, feet and lower abdomen)

Side effects may last from a few days to several months. Some people experience these symptoms all the time while others only get them occasionally.

Most people don’t notice any change in their ability to drive or perform other activities because they’re not driving or performing those tasks.

Severe side effects of zoloft use are considered rare. If you experience any of the following, seek medical attention immediately:

chest pain

heart palpitations

dizziness or fainting

suicidal thoughts


allergic reactions (e.g.

hives, rash or difficulty breathing)

Other side effects are less common but still possible. These side effects are:


anxiety or nervousness


digestive pain, nausea or vomiting

dry mouth and sore throat

impotence or loss of interest in sexual activity

stuffy or runny nose

tremors or loss of coordination

Less common and rare side effects include:

ringing in the ears and hearing problems

behavioral problems in children, such as aggression, hostility, being angry or having tantrums

abnormal dreams

sexual problems and decreased interest in sexual activity

feeling agitated or restless


feeling dizzy or faint when standing up (postural hypotension)

breathing problems which can be severe and require immediate medical attention such as wheezing, difficulty breathing and yawning

suicidal thoughts or attempts at suicide

If any of these rare side effects occur, seek medical attention immediately.

Zoloft should not be taken by people with the following conditions:

allergy or hypersensitivity to zoloft or any of its ingredients

taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (e.g.

phenelzine) or have taken them in the last two weeks

uncorrected heart disease or recent heart attack

seizures or epilepsy

low blood pressure, high blood pressure that cannot be controlled by medication

Zoloft should also not be taken while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Zoloft works within a few weeks but the maximum benefits are not seen until after two to three months. It takes longer for more severe cases to improve.

While there is no maximum dosage, side effects may become worse, and you should seek medical advice if you experience any side effects after dosage increases. The drug starts working within a few weeks but it can take up to 3 months for full benefit, and up to 6 months for severe cases.

Because of the potential for severe side effects, zoloft is not suitable for everyone. Zoloft should not be used by people with certain medical conditions.

You should let your doctor know if you have any of the following conditions before starting treatment:

heart disease

seizures or epilepsy

a bleeding disorder

low blood pressure or hypertension (high blood pressure)

allergy to sertraline or any other SSRI (e.g.

citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, etc.)

hyponatremia (low sodium in the blood)

congenital deficiency of the enzyme CYP2D6 (e.g.

“slow metabolisers”)

Zoloft should be avoided in the elderly, people with a history of liver or kidney problems or heart disease, and in people who are also taking an antidepressant called a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), as the combination may cause the blood pressure to become dangerously low.

Zoloft use during pregnancy or breastfeeding is not recommended as it may cause harm to the child.

Do not give up or alter the dose of any prescribed medicines you are taking without first consulting your doctor.

Zoloft can be taken either with or without food. It may be taken at the same time as your usual pills or medicines, and can be taken either on a full or empty stomach.

However, it is recommended that zoloft capsules not be taken within 2 hours of antacid tablets or products containing calcium, as this may affect the amount of sertraline absorbed by the body.

Zoloft should generally not be stopped suddenly. It is recommended that you reduce the dose by 50% per month over a period of at least 4 weeks under the guidance of your doctor.

Zoloft is a prescription-only medication and is not available over the counter. It can only be obtained with a valid medical prescription.

Zoloft is believed to work by affecting the levels of the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters, which include serotonin. More serotonin is made and released, which improves the symptoms of depression.

Zoloft is relatively well tolerated with minimal side effects. The most common side-effects include headache, nausea, diarrhoea, drowsiness and anxiety.

The elderly may have an increase in side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness and confusion. If you suffer from alcoholism you may experience a skin rash after taking the medication.

Zoloft should not be taken with alcohol or any other medicines that cause drowsiness. Zoloft may not mix well with other antidepressants or medicines that are taken for anxiety, mental illness, Parkinson’s disease or certain heart conditions.

Zoloft should be taken with caution if you have any of the following conditions: liver problems, glaucoma, seizures, low sodium levels in the blood, a heart rhythm disorder or a history of drug abuse.

If you are suffering from a loss of appetite or nausea, zoloft may help. Zoloot can also improve mood and sleep patterns, so you may have less pain, feel more energetic and experience a better mood overall.

Zoloot may be habit-forming and should be taken as directed by your physician.

Common side effects of Zoloot may include: nausea, drowsiness, dry mouth, sweating, tremors, loss of appetite, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, anxiety, irritability and trouble sleeping.

If you experience any of the following serious side effects stop taking Zoloot and see a doctor: seizures, allergic reactions, panic attacks, rapid heart rate, trouble breathing, extreme restlessness, sharp pains, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, muscle stiffness, increased aggressiveness, hallucinations or suicidal thoughts.

Zoloot can affect your ability to drive as it may cause dizziness and drowsiness.

If you are planning on having surgery that requires general anesthesia, ask your physician if you should stop taking Zoloot.

Do not drink alcohol while taking Zoloot as it may worsen the drowsiness and dizziness effects.

Zoloot should not be taken with any other medicine or dietary supplements that cause drowsiness. This includes cough and cold medicine, painkillers, and certain over the counter sleep aids.

Zoloot can be dangerous to the fetus if taken during pregnancy. It may be best to avoid getting pregnant while taking Zoloot.

If you are planning on having a child, ask your doctor if there are any precautions you should take.

Zoloot is excreted through the milk of breastfeeding mothers, and so it is possible that it may affect nursing infants. For this reason, mothers taking Zoloot should not nurse their infants.

Zoloot comes in 25, 50 and 100 mg tablets. The usual dose is 25-100 mg per day, which is taken once per day in the morning or evening.

If you are taking Zoloot to treat depression, continue to take the medication even if you feel better. Do not stop taking Zoloot unless your physician tells you to do so.

If you stop taking Zoloot suddenly you may experience withdrawal effects such as headaches, stomach pain, nausea, anxiety, drowsiness and irritability.

Zoloot generally starts taking effect within a week. Continue taking the medication even if you do not feel any different.

Do not stop taking Zoloot unless directed by your physician.

Zoloot is not recommended for children under the age of 18 as there is not enough research on its use in this age group.

Sources & references used in this article:

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A double-blind multicenter trial comparing sertraline and fluoxetine in outpatients with major depression. by EH Bennie, JM Mullin, JJ Martindale – The Journal of clinical …, 1995 – psycnet.apa.org

Sertraline‐induced hypomania: a genuine side‐effect by DN Mendhekar, D Gupta… – Acta Psychiatrica …, 2003 – Wiley Online Library

Does intolerance or lack of response with fluoxetine predict the same will happen with sertraline? by CA Zarate, JC Kando, M Tohen… – The Journal of clinical …, 1996 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Manic psychosis after sertraline and transcranial direct-current stimulation by AR Brunoni, L Valiengo, T Zanao… – The Journal of …, 2011 – Am Neuropsych Assoc

Bupropion and sertraline combination treatment in refractory depression by RD Marshall, CM Johannet, PY Collins… – Journal of …, 1995 – journals.sagepub.com

Sertraline and akathisia. by LA Opler – 1994 – psycnet.apa.org

Sertraline in the prevention of depression by DP Doogan, V Caillard – The British Journal of Psychiatry, 1992 – search.proquest.com

… and efficacy of sertraline for depression in patients with heart failure: results of the SADHART-CHF (Sertraline Against Depression and Heart Disease in Chronic Heart … by CM O’Connor, W Jiang, M Kuchibhatla… – Journal of the …, 2010 – onlinejacc.org