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Sertraline, Oral Tablet

Highlights for sertraline

  1. This drug is available as both a generic and brand-named drug. Brand-name: Zoloft.
  2. This drug is also available as an oral solution.
  3. Sertraline is used to treat major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
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Important warnings

Important warnings

FDA warning: Suicidal thoughts or behavior 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.
  • 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 911 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.

About

What is sertraline?

Sertraline oral tablet is a prescription drug that’s 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 is also available as an oral solution.

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.

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

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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Side effects

Sertraline side effects

Sertraline oral tablet may cause drowsiness, insomnia, or both. It may also cause other side effects.

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 911 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

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.

Interactions

Sertraline may interact with other medications

Sertraline oral tablet 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.

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.

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Other warnings

Sertraline warnings

Sertraline oral tablet comes with several warnings.

Allergy warning

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 911 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).

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.

Warnings for people with certain health conditions

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

For 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.

For 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.

For 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.

For 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.

Warnings for other groups

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

For women who are breastfeeding: 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: 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: 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.

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Dosage

How to take sertraline

This dosage information is for sertraline 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

Forms and strengths

Generic: 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

Dosage for major depressive disorder

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.

Dosage for obsessive-compulsive disorder

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.

Dosage for panic disorder

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.

Dosage for posttraumatic stress disorder

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.

Dosage for social anxiety disorder

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.

Dosage for premenstrual dysphoric disorder

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.

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Take as directed

Take as directed

Sertraline oral tablet is used for long-term treatment. It 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 911 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.

Important considerations

Important considerations for taking this drug

Keep these considerations in mind if your doctor prescribes sertraline oral tablet for you.

General

  • You can take this drug with or without food.
  • You can cut or crush the tablet.
  • Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead.

Storage

  • Store this drug at room temperature between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C). Keep it away from light.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.
  • Keep the bottle closed tightly.

Refills

A prescription for this medication is refillable. You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

Always carry your drugs with you when you travel.

  • When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor will monitor you for certain health issues. This is done to make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. Your doctor will check:

  • Your mental health and symptoms of depression. Your doctor will monitor your symptoms of depression to make sure that this drug is working and that you’re not having suicidal thoughts. They’ll watch you closely during the first few months after you start taking this drug or if you have had dose changes.
  • Sodium levels. Your doctor may check the amount sodium in your body. Your doctor may do this when you start using this drug and at other times while you are taking it.
  • Eye pressure. Your doctor may check the pressure of your eyes regularly while you take this drug. Your doctor will do this if you have a history of increased eye pressure or are at risk for certain types of glaucoma.
  • Cholesterol levels. This drug can increase your cholesterol. Your doctor will check your cholesterol levels to make sure that they are not getting too high.
  • Liver function. Your doctor will check how well your liver is working while you take this drug. If your liver isn’t working well, your doctor may decide to lower your dose of this drug.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor will need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

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Alternatives

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.

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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