Zoloft Side Effects And Warnings

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

Zoloft and Anxiety

Zoloft and Anxiety

Zoloft or sertraline is a drug prescribed for anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress or social phobia. It improves mood, sleep and energy level, fighting against unwanted thoughts of fear and anxiety. Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor which helps the brain to maintain high serotonin levels in order to elevate mood[1]. Anxiety is an unwanted emotion characterized by nervous behavior, overreaction, worry and unpleasant feelings of fear and sometimes guilt. Anxiety is not the same as fear. It is a response to potential future events, while fear is a response to an immediate threat.

Anxiety disorders include panic disorder, social phobia, specific phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder. People suffering from panic disorder often have feelings of terror and symptoms like chest pain, palpitations or sweating. Zoloft is used for the treatment of panic attacks for both men and women. Under treatment, they suffer fewer panic attacks and have a general better quality of life. A medical study performed on men and women who met criteria for panic disorder (meaning they suffered at least 4 panic attacks) showed that Zoloft is effective, well-tolerated, and safe when it comes to treating panic disorders[2].

Social phobia is characterized by overwhelming worries about social situations, while specific phobias are fears of specific objects like heights or insects[3]. Social anxiety disorder involves symptoms such as sweating, blushing, dry mouth, extreme fear of being put in awkward situations, and panic when meeting people. If you experience serious symptoms like chest pain or you feel like hurting yourself or someone else, seek immediate medical assistance. Generalized anxiety disorder involves excessive fear about daily life events even if there is logically little to worry about.

People suffering from panic attacks are typically prescribed an initial dose of 25 mg once a day which is usually increased up to 50 mg per day in the first week. The usual adult dose of Zoloft for social phobia is 25 mg initially then higher doses up to 200 mg orally once a day. These adjustments should be made after at least one week of therapy. (Please note these are just informative doses, so the exact dosage must be established only by your clinician. )

Before starting anti anxiety therapy with Zoloft you should talk to your doctor about the possible side effects of this medicine. The most common side effects of sertraline are nervous system disorders such as impotence, twitching, headaches, cramps, and psychiatric disorders such as sexual dysfunctions, depression, amnesia, or emotional changes[4]. Zoloft should be taken by mouth with food after a meal, usually in a single dose per day. The dosage is established by the clinician based on your medical condition. It is important to take Zoloft as prescribed even the symptoms of anxiety disappear or else they could reappear and become even worse than before the treatment. Also, if you abruptly stop taking the drug you may experience serious withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, tiredness, nausea and mood changes. (See Zoloft Withdrawal for more information.)

References:

  1. Amsterdam J., Journal of Psychopharmacology, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor efficiency in severe and melancholic depression, 1998
  2. American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, Revised 3rd Edition, DC American Psychiatric Association, 1987
  3. Hansen R., Gaynes B., Gartlehner G., Moore C., Tiwari R., Lohr K., Efficacy and tolerability of second generation antidepressants in social anxiety disorder, 2008
  4. Hirschfeld R., Depress Anxiety, Sertraline in the treatment of anxiety disorders, 2000

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