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Generic Name:

sertraline, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Zoloft
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for sertraline

Oral tablet
1

Sertraline is used to treat major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

2

This drug is available as an oral tablet and an oral solution.

3

This drug is available as the brand-named drug Zoloft. It is also available as a generic drug.

4

Some common side effects of this drug include nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and change in sleep habits. They also include increased sweating, sexual problems, tremor or shaking, fatigue, and agitation.

5

You might not feel improvement in symptoms right when you start taking this drug. It can take 1–4 weeks to start working. When you do start to feel better, don’t stop taking it. Continue taking it as prescribed.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA warning

This drug has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Suicidal thoughts or behavior warning. This drug may increase suicidal thoughts or behavior in some children, teenagers, or young adults. The risk of this is greatest within the first few months of treatment or when the dosage is changed. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have new or sudden changes in your mood, behavior, actions, thoughts, or feelings, especially if they are severe. Pay extra close attention when you start taking this drug or when your dosage is changed.

Serotonin syndrome

This drug may cause a possibly life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome. The symptoms of serotonin syndrome include hallucinations and delusions, agitation, coma, fast heart rate, and changes in blood pressure. They also include dizziness, loss of consciousness, seizures, shakiness, muscle tremor or stiff muscles, sweating, nausea, and vomiting.

Severe allergic reaction

This drug can sometimes cause a severe allergic reaction. Call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room right away if you have swelling of your face, tongue, or throat, or you have trouble breathing. A severe allergic reaction may cause death. You should not take this medication again if you have ever had an allergic reaction to it.

What is sertraline?

This drug is a prescription drug. It’s available as a tablet or solution that you take by mouth.

This drug is available as the brand-name drug Zoloft. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug works by increasing the amount of serotonin, a natural substance in your brain, that helps maintain mental health balance. This can improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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SECTION 2 of 5

sertraline Side Effects

Oral tablet

More Common Side Effects

The adult side effects for this drug are slightly different from the side effects for children.

  • Side effects for adults and children can include:

    • nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and indigestion
    • change in sleep habits, including increased sleepiness and insomnia
    • increased sweating
    • sexual problems, including decreased sex drive and ejaculation failure
    • tremor or shaking
    • tiredness and fatigue
    • agitation
  • Additional side effects for children can include:

    • abnormal increase in muscle movement or agitation
    • nose bleed
    • more frequent urination
    • urine leakage
    • aggressiveness
    • heavy menstrual periods
    • slowed growth rate and weight change. You should closely watch your child’s height and weight while they take this drug.

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Suicide attempts

  • Acting on dangerous impulses

  • Aggressive or violent behavior

  • Thoughts about suicide or dying

  • New or worse depression

  • New or worse anxiety or panic attacks

  • Agitation, restlessness, anger, or irritability

  • Trouble sleeping

  • An increase in activity or talking more than normal

  • Serotonin syndrome. This condition can be life-threatening. Symptoms can include:

    • hallucinations and delusions
    • agitation
    • loss of consciousness
    • seizures
    • coma
    • fast heart rate
    • changes in blood pressure
    • muscle tremor or stiff muscles
    • dizziness
    • shakiness
    • sweating
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • muscle rigidity
  • Severe allergic reactions. Symptoms can include:

    • trouble breathing
    • swelling of your face, tongue, eyes, or mouth
    • rash, itchy welts (hives) or blisters, alone or with fever or joint pain
  • Abnormal bleeding

  • Seizures or convulsions

  • Manic episodes. Symptoms can include:

    • greatly increased energy
    • severe trouble sleeping
    • racing thoughts
    • reckless behavior
    • unusually grand ideas
    • excessive happiness or irritability
    • talking more or faster than usual
  • Changes in appetite or weight. You should check the weight and height of children and adolescents often while they take this drug.

  • Low sodium levels. Seniors may be at greater risk for this. Symptoms can include:

    • headache
    • weakness or unsteadiness
    • confusion, problems concentrating or thinking, or memory problems
  • Eye pain

  • Changes in vision, including blurred and double vision

  • Swelling or redness in or around your eyes

Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug may cause drowsiness, insomnia, or both.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

sertraline May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

This drug can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Alcohol interaction

Drinking alcohol while you take sertraline can increase your risk of sleepiness. It can also affect your ability to make decisions, think clearly, or react quickly. If you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Drugs you should not use with sertraline

Do not take these drugs with sertraline. When they are used with sertraline, they can cause dangerous effects in your body. These drugs include:

  • Pimozide. Taking this drug with sertraline can cause serious heart problems.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as isocarboxazid, phenelzine, and tranylcypromine. Taking these drugs with sertraline increases your risk of serotonin syndrome. You must also wait 14 days between taking these drugs and taking sertraline.
  • Linezolid, intravenous methylene blue. Taking this drugs with sertraline increases your risk of serotonin syndrome.

Interactions that increase the risk of side effects

Taking certain medications with sertraline may result in increased side effects. These drugs include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin and warfarin. Taking these drugs with sertraline increases your risk of bleeding or bruising.
  • Triptans such as sumatriptan. Your risk of serotonin syndrome is increased when you take these drugs with sertraline. Your doctor should watch you closely if you take these drugs together.
  • Lithium. Taking this drug with lithium increases your risk of serotonin syndrome.
  • Serotonergic medications such as fentanyl, tramadol, and St John’s wort. Taking these drugs with sertraline increases your risk of serotonin syndrome.
  • Cimetidine. Taking cimetidine with sertraline may cause a build-up of sertraline in your body. Your dose of sertraline might need to be lowered if you take it with cimetidine.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, desipramine, and imipramine. Taking sertraline with these drugs may cause these drugs to build up in your body. Your doctor may need to adjust your dosage of tricyclic antidepressants while you take sertraline.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
glaucoma
People with glaucoma

Taking this drug may trigger a glaucoma attack. If you have glaucoma, talk to your doctor before taking this drug.

bipolar disorder
People with bipolar disorder

Taking this drug may trigger a manic episode. If you have a history of mania or bipolar disorder, talk to your doctor before using this drug.

seizures
People with seizures

Taking this drug increases your risk of seizures. If you already have seizures, talk to your doctor before taking this drug. If you have a seizure while using this drug, you should stop taking it.

kidney problems
People with kidney problems

If you have kidney problems or a history of kidney disease, you may not be able to clear this drug from your body well. This may increase the levels of this drug in your body and cause more side effects. This drug may also decrease your kidney function, making your kidney disease worse.

liver problems
People with liver problems

If you have liver problems or a history of liver disease, your body may not be able to process this drug as well. This may increase the levels of this drug in your body and cause more side effects.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

This drug is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

This drug may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breastfed.

Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

for seniors
For seniors

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

If you are over the age of 65 years, you may be at higher risk of developing muscle problems while taking this drug, including low salt levels in the blood (known as hyponatremia).

for children
For children

This medication has not been studied in children as treatment for major depressive disorder, panic disorder, posttraumatic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It should not be used for these disorders in people younger than 18 years.

This medication has only been studied in children with obsessive-compulsive disorder. For treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, it should not be used in people younger than 6 years.

call doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

allergies
Allergies

This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your face, tongue, eyes, or mouth
  • rash, itchy welts (hives) or blisters, alone or with fever or joint pain

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take sertraline (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Major depressive disorder

Brand: sertraline

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 20 mg/mL

Brand: Zoloft

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 20 mg/mL
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • The typical starting dose is 50 mg per day.
  • Your doctor will slowly increase your dose every week, as needed.
  • The maximum dose is 200 mg per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The use of this drug to treat children with this condition has not been studied. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Brand: sertraline

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 20 mg/mL

Brand: Zoloft

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 20 mg/mL
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • The typical starting dose is 50 mg per day.
  • Your doctor will slowly increase your dose every week, as needed.
  • The maximum dose is 200 mg per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–5 years)

The use of this drug to treat children with this condition has not been studied. It should not be used in people younger than 6 years.

Child dosage (ages 6–12 years)

25 mg once daily

Child dosage (ages 0–5 years)

50 mg once daily

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Panic disorder

Brand: sertraline

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 20 mg/mL

Brand: Zoloft

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 20 mg/mL
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • The typical starting dose is 25 mg per day. This is usually increased to 50 mg per day after 1 week.
  • Your doctor will slowly increase your dose every week, as needed.
  • The maximum dose is 200 mg per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The use of this drug to treat children with this condition has not been studied. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Posttraumatic stress disorder

Brand: sertraline

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 20 mg/mL

Brand: Zoloft

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 20 mg/mL
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • The typical starting dose is 25 mg per day. This is usually increased to 50 mg per day after 1 week.
  • Your doctor will slowly increase your dose every week, as needed.
  • The maximum dose is 200 mg per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The use of this drug to treat children with this condition has not been studied. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Social anxiety disorder

Brand: sertraline

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 20 mg/mL

Brand: Zoloft

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 20 mg/mL
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • The typical starting dose is 25 mg per day. This is usually increased to 50 mg per day after 1 week.
  • Your doctor will slowly increase your dose every week, as needed.
  • The maximum dose is 200 mg per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The use of this drug to treat children with this condition has not been studied. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Brand: sertraline

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 20 mg/mL

Brand: Zoloft

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral solution
Strengths: 20 mg/mL
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • The typical starting dose is 50 mg per day, throughout your menstrual cycle.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

The use of this drug to treat children with this condition has not been studied. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

Your depression will not get better. It may even get worse. Do not stop taking this drug without first talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping your drug too quickly may cause serious symptoms, including:

  • anxiety, irritability, high or low mood, restlessness, and changes in your sleep habits
  • headache, sweating, nausea, and dizziness
  • electric shock-like sensations, shaking, and confusion

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • tiredness
  • vomiting
  • fast heart rate
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • agitation
  • tremors 

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

You will know that this drug is working if you notice that your depression symptoms are less severe or happen less often. This may take up to 4 weeks. When you do start to feel better, don’t stop taking it. Continue to take it as your doctor told you.

This drug is used for long-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking this drug
take with or without food
You can take this drug with or without food
can crush
You can cut or crush the tablet
storage
Store this drug carefully
See Details
refillable
A prescription for this medication is refillable
See Details
travel
Travel
See Details
clinical monitoring
Clinical monitoring
See Details
not usually stocked
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead.
prior authorization
Insurance
See Details

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does sertraline Cost?

Oral tablet

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Lowest price for sertraline

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Sams Club $9.27
Safeway $9.95
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for sertraline on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for sertraline on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on December 15, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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