Zoloft Side Effects And Warnings

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

Zoloft and Lexapro Comparison

Zoloft and Lexapro Comparison

Zoloft (sertraline) is an antidepressant used to improve disorders like depression, panic attacks and anxiety related syndromes. It is classified as an SSRI, which means selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, so it is a drug that helps your brain absorb more serotonin in order to improve your mood. The recommended dose for Zoloft is between 50 and 100 mg per day, while an average Lexapro dose is not higer than 20 mg daily. Lexapro (escitalopram) is also an SSRI prescribed to treat depression and anxiety. Other than these conditions, Lexapro can also be used to treat bipolar depression and "change of life" signs, which are menopause related symptoms such as irregular periods, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, and mood changes[1].

Zoloft treats women suffering from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMDD is a condition in which women have more severe symptoms than in PMS that occur a week before the monthly menstrual cycle and stop when the period begins. PMS cause emotional symptoms like tension, crying spells, mood swings, irritability and social withdrawal and also physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, muscle pain, weight gain, breast pain and bloating.

There have been 16 drug warnings from different countries all over the world on Lexapro, including 10 warnings on causing suicide, 2 warnings on causing death, 2 warnings on causing aggression, 2 warnings on causing birth defects and 1 warning on causing abnormal bleeding. Zoloft has 23 regulatory agency warnings about the same risks plus others such as hallucinations and withdrawal reactions. Moreover, there have been only 5 studies on Lexapro causing violence, sexual dysfunction, risk of mortality while on Zoloft there have been 23 studies[2]. The most common adverse reaction to Lexapro are suicidal ideations, anxiety, nausea, depression, convulsions, dizziness, loss of consciousness, irregular heartbeat, hallucinations, insomnia, neck pain, sexual dysfunctions and tremors. Most of these are common Zoloft side effects: depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, dizziness, insomnia and sexual disorders[3].

When it comes to withdrawal, both Zoloft and Lexapro should be tapered and not abruptly stopped. Common withdrawal symptoms in these antidepressants are headache and tiredness, while in Zoloft withdrawal patients may experience electric shock sensations and tingling. Confusion and nervousness are two common withdrawal symptoms during tapering. No matter your type of SSRI, you should avoid alcohol and driving while on antidepressant treatment because both Zoloft and Lexapro affect your alertness, and alcohol makes this worse.

Escitalopram is superior in efficacy than other SSRIs when it comes to treating major depressive disorder and it is less likely to cause insomnia and anxiety than sertraline[4]. Dry mouth is another side effect of both drugs, although Lexapro is more likely to cause it. When it comes to pregnancy category, both Zoloft and Lexapro are pregnancy category C, which means they can be prescribed by clinicians to pregnant women without serious risks of fetal malformations or miscarriage. Lexapro is the fastest SSRI, having a quick antidepressant effect and it is also the most prescribed drug for patients with insomnia, rather than Zoloft which is more preferred in patients with lack of energy and apathy. Both antidepressants are well tolerated in comparison to other SSRIs.


  1. Ian M. Anderson and J. Guy Edwards, Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, Guidelines for choice of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in depressive illness, 2001
  2. Edwards J., Anderson I., Systematic review and guide to selection of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, 1999
  3. Mencacci C., Aguglia E., Biggio G., Cappellari L., Di Sciascio G., Fagiolini A., Maina G., Tortorella A., Katz P., Ripellino C., Cost and Quality-of-Life Pharmacoeconomic Analysis of Antidepressants in Major Depressive Disorder in Italy, 2013
  4. Efficacy of escitalopram in the treatment of major depressive disorder compared with conventional selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and venlafaxine XR: a meta-analysis, 2006

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