Zoloft Side Effects And Warnings

Learn Facts About Zoloft, its Side Effects, and Associated Risks

Side Effects Of Zoloft

What Are The Side Effects of Zoloft?

Zoloft (Sertraline) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which is primarily prescribed for outpatient treatment of depressive disorders in adults and panic, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders in both children and adults. While Zoloft’s side effects are much reduced when compared to older antidepressants, it is important to understand what you may face if you choose to use Zoloft as a treatment option.

Common Side Effects

The most common side effects of Zoloft experienced by patients are outlined below, along with an approximate percentage of patients suffering from those side effects.

  • Nausea and Diarrhea
    Nausea and Diarrhea are among the most common side effects experienced by patients taking Zoloft. Statistical studies indicate approximately 25% of patients will suffer from nausea while taking Zoloft and 20% of patients will suffer from diarrhea or loose stools.
  • Sleep Disorders
    Insomnia affects approximately 21% of patients taking Zoloft, while 13% suffer from somnolence (drowsiness).
  • Suicide
    As with all antidepressants sold in the United States, Zoloft carries a black box warning indicating a heightened risk of suicide in patients under the age of 25. This risk is most pronounced amongst children, where statistical analyses have found a two-fold increase in suicidal ideation and behavior. This risk is also present young adults, aged 18 to 25, where the risk is 1.5 fold. While this is still a rare side effect, it is important to be aware of its potential impact. If you experience this side effect, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Sexual Side Effects
    As with all SSRI-class drugs, Zoloft can have a significant impact on your sex life. Approximately 14% of all patients taking Zoloft experienced difficulty in achieving orgasm, while 6% experienced a significant decrease in libido. Approximately 1% of male patients suffered from impotence.
  • Autonomic Nervous System Side Effects
    Approximately 14% of patients experienced dry mouth while taking Zoloft, while 7% experienced increased sweating.
  • Central and Peripheral Nervous System Side Effects
    Headaches are a frequent side effect for users of Zoloft and almost 25% of patients experienced this side effect during clinical trials. Other common side effects affecting the central and peripheral nervous system include dizziness (12% of patients), tremors (8% of patients), and paresthesia (tingling, tickling, burning, or pricking sensations in the skin – 2% of patients).
  • Fatigue
    Among Zoloft users, 12% experienced general fatigue while undergoing treatment.
  • Gastrointestinal Side Effects
    Dyspepsia (indigestion) is the most common digestive side effect, affecting approximately 8% of Zoloft patients. Anorexia and constipation were experienced by 6% of users, while 4% of Zoloft patients experienced vomiting.
  • Psychiatric Side Effects
    Following the sexual side effects listed above, agitation and nervousness were the most common psychiatric disorders, which affected 5% of Zoloft patients. Anxiety affected 4% of Zoloft users during treatment.
  • Sensory Side Effects
    3% of patients experienced abnormal vision while taking Zoloft.

Uncommon Side Effects

In addition to the side effects outlined above, patients may experience a variety of less common side effects. The following side effects were experienced by at least 1% of Zoloft users.

Impotence, heart palpitations and chest pain, muscle tightness and loss of flexibility, reduced sense of touch or sensation, increased appetite, back pain, weakness or loss of strength, malaise, weight increase, muscle pain, excessive yawning, irritation of the nose, ringing in the ears.

Infrequent Side Effects

The following side effects were experienced by 0.1% to 1% of Zoloft users, impacting from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 100 patients.

Flushing, increased saliva, cold or clammy skin, dilated pupils, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, dizziness when standing, low blood pressure when standing, swelling around the eyes, decreased peripheral blood flow, hypotension, syncope (temporary loss of consciousness due to low blood flow to the brain), edema, twitching, confusion, increased muscular activity, vertigo, ataxia (lack of muscular coordination), increased sensitivity to stimuli, leg cramps, abnormal gait, involuntary eye movement, tooth decay, difficulty swallowing, increased belching, inflammation of the esophagus, inflammation of the stomach and intestines, fever, rigors, excessive thirst, joint pain, dystonia (involuntary muscular contractions), muscle cramps, depression, amnesia, morbid dreaming, teeth grinding, apathy, emotional lability, paranoid reaction, hallucinations, aggressive reactions, delusions, menstrual disorders, vaginal hemorrhage, amenorrhea (absence or cessation of menstruation), vaginal discharge, coughing, shortness of breath, upper respiratory tract infections, sinusitis, nosebleed, bronchial spasms, earaches, eye pain, conjunctivitis, increased urination, pain during urination, excessive urination at night, urinary incontinence.

Rare Side Effects

The following side effects were experienced by 0.01% to 0.001% of Zoloft users, impacting from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 1,000 patients.

Aggravated hypertension, heart attack, cerebrovascular disorder (disease of the blood vessels to the brain), difficulty in speaking, coma, eczema, dermatitis, pustular rash, skin discoloration, abnormal body hair growth, protruding eyeballs, development of male breast tissue, dark or bloody stool, inflammation of the tongue, hiccups, fecal incontinence, inflammation of the rectum, tongue ulcers, canker sores, sensitivity to sound, labyrinthine disorder (including balance disorders, tinnitus, vertigo, and hearing loss), anemia, eye hemorrhage, hypoglycemia, withdrawal syndrome, illusion, female breast pain, increased breast size, dry eyes, oversensitivity to light, double vision, excessive tear production.

Managing Side Effects

If you experience any of the side effects associated Zoloft it is critical you speak with your doctor as soon as possible. Your physician can adjust your prescription or offer other medications which can help to reduce or eliminate problematic side effects. While it is impossible to remove all side effects, in most cases working with your doctor can help to relieve your most distressing symptoms.

Withdrawal Symptoms

You should not quit taking Zoloft without medical supervision. There is a significant risk of withdrawal syndrome, which can lead to depression, agitation, anxiety, and aggression, as well as other side effects. Always discuss changes in medication with your doctor and do not discontinue use of Zoloft without appropriate supervision.

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