Zoloft (sertraline) is a prescription drug that’s used to treat certain mood disorders, including depression. The drug comes as an oral tablet and an oral liquid solution. It’s usually taken once daily.
Zoloft is used in adults to treat:
- major depressive disorder (depression)
- social anxiety disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- panic disorder
- premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
Zoloft is also used in children ages 6–17 years to treat OCD.
The active ingredient in Zoloft is sertraline. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.) Zoloft belongs to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
This article describes the dosages of Zoloft, as well as its forms and how to take it. To learn more about Zoloft, see this in-depth article.
This section describes the usual dosages of Zoloft. Keep reading to learn more.
What are Zoloft’s forms?
Zoloft comes in two forms: an oral tablet and a concentrated liquid solution.
What strengths does Zoloft come in?
Zoloft tablets come in three strengths:
- 25 milligrams (mg)
- 50 mg
- 100 mg
Zoloft liquid solution comes in one strength of 20 milligrams per milliliter of solution (20 mg/mL). The solution contains 12% alcohol.
What are the usual dosages of Zoloft?
Your doctor will likely start by prescribing you a low dosage and adjusting it over time to reach the right amount for you. They’ll ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.
The information below describes dosages that are commonly taken or recommended. But be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. They’ll determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
Dosage for depression
The typical starting dose of Zoloft for adults with major depressive disorder (depression) is 50 mg taken once daily. If necessary, your doctor may increase your dose by 25–50 mg at a time. They may do this once per week until your dosage is effective for your condition.
The maximum daily dosage of Zoloft for depression is 200 mg.
Dosage for obsessive-compulsive disorder
For adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) the usual starting dose is 50 mg taken once daily. If necessary, your doctor may increase your dose by 25–50 mg at a time. They may do this once weekly until your dosage is effective for your condition.
The maximum daily dosage of Zoloft for OCD is 200 mg.
Dosage for panic disorder
For adults with panic disorder, the typical starting dose is 25 mg taken once per day. Your doctor may increase your dose by 25–50 mg at a time if needed. They may do this once per week until they find the dosage that’s right for you.
The maximum daily dosage of Zoloft for panic disorder is 200 mg.
Dosage for social anxiety disorder
For adults with social anxiety disorder, the usual starting dose is 25 mg taken once daily. If necessary, your doctor may increase your dose by 25–50 mg at a time. They may do this once weekly until they find the dosage that’s right for you.
The maximum daily dosage of Zoloft for social anxiety disorder is 200 mg.
Dosage for post-traumatic stress disorder
For adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the typical starting dose is 25 mg taken once daily. If needed, your doctor may increase your dose by 25–50 mg at a time. They may do this once weekly until they find the dosage that’s effective for your condition.
The maximum daily dosage of Zoloft for PTSD is 200 mg.
Dosage for premenstrual dysphoric disorder
For adults with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), the typical starting dosage of Zoloft is 50 mg taken once daily. Your dosage depends on whether you take the drug every day or only on specific days of your menstrual cycle.
- If you take Zoloft every day, the typical dosage is 50–150 mg taken once daily.
- If you take Zoloft only during the luteal phase* of your menstrual cycle, your doctor may increase your daily dose up to 100 mg. A typical dosage may be 50 mg once daily during the first 3 days of dosing followed by 100 mg per day during the remaining days of the dosing cycle.
* The luteal phase is the 14 days between ovulation and your next period.
What’s the dosage of Zoloft for children?
Zoloft is used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in children ages 6–17 years.
The starting dose for children depends on their age:
- For children ages 6–12 years, the starting dosage is 25 mg taken once per day.
- For children ages 13–17 years, the starting dosage is 50 mg taken once per day.
Your child’s doctor will monitor their symptoms and may adjust the dosage to find the right amount for them. If an adjustment is needed, their doctor will typically increase the dose by 25–50 mg at a time once per week. The maximum daily dosage of Zoloft for OCD in children is 200 mg.
For more information about Zoloft’s dosage for children, talk with your child’s doctor or a pharmacist.
Is Zoloft used long term?
Yes, Zoloft is usually used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that it’s safe and effective for your condition, you’ll likely take it long term.
The dosage of Zoloft you’re prescribed may depend on several factors. These include:
- the type and severity of the condition you’re taking the drug to treat
- your age
- other health conditions you have
- the health of your liver
- other drugs you are taking
- other conditions you may have
Zoloft comes as an oral tablet. (If you have trouble swallowing tablets, see this article for tips on how to take this form of medication.) Zoloft also comes as an oral liquid solution, which is an option for people who have difficulty swallowing tablets.
The Zoloft solution is concentrated and must be diluted with 4 ounces (1/2 cup) of liquid. You can mix it with water, ginger ale, lemon-lime soda, lemonade, or orange juice. You should dilute it right before taking a dose. Do not mix it in advance.
For information on the expiration, storage, and disposal of Zoloft, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also see the “Expiration” section of this article.
Accessible drug containers and labels
Some pharmacies provide medication labels that:
- have large print
- use braille
- feature a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text to audio
Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend pharmacies that offer these accessibility features if your current pharmacy doesn’t.
Let your pharmacist know if you have trouble opening medication bottles. They may have tips to help, or they may be able to supply Zoloft in an easy-open container.
If you miss a dose of Zoloft, take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at its usual time. Do not take two doses at once to make up for a missed dose. If you’re not sure whether you should take a missed dose, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
If you need help remembering to take your dose of Zoloft on time, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or downloading a reminder app on your phone.
Do not take more Zoloft than your doctor prescribes, as this can lead to harmful effects.
Symptoms of overdose
Symptoms caused by an overdose can include:
- nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- seizures (which may be delayed)
- severe mood changes
- fast heart rate and atypical heart rhythm
- high blood pressure
- muscle twitching
- muscle stiffness
- dilated pupils
In some cases, an overdose of Zoloft could lead to coma.
What to do in case you take too much Zoloft
Call your doctor right away if you think you’ve taken too much Zoloft. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach America’s Poison Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.
Taking Zoloft can lead to physical dependence, which occurs when your body relies on a drug to function as usual.
If you suddenly stop taking Zoloft, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. These are side effects that can occur when you stop taking a drug that your body has become dependent on.
Examples of withdrawal symptoms include:
Before you end your Zoloft treatment, your doctor may lower your dosage slowly over time. This can help reduce your risk of withdrawal symptoms after you stop treatment.
If you have withdrawal symptoms after you’ve stopped taking Zoloft, talk with your doctor. They can recommend ways to ease these symptoms.
Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about Zoloft’s dosage.
What is considered a high dose and low dose of Zoloft?
The highest recommended daily dose of Zoloft is 200 milligrams (mg). The lowest daily dose of Zoloft that’s typically prescribed is 25 mg.
If you have questions about the Zoloft dosage that’s right for you, talk with your doctor.
Is Zoloft’s dosage similar to the dosage of Lexapro and Paxil?
The dose in milligrams for each drug differs. Your doctor will prescribe the drug and the dosage that’s right for you.
To learn more about how these drugs compare, talk with your doctor.
How long does it take for Zoloft to start working?
Zoloft starts to work after your first dose. Because of how the drug works, you likely won’t feel it working in your body. But your doctor will monitor you during treatment to check whether the drug is working to treat your condition.
If you have other questions about what to expect from your Zoloft treatment, talk with your doctor.
The sections above describe the usual dosages provided by the manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Zoloft for you, they’ll prescribe the dosage that’s right for you.
Remember, you should not change your dosage of Zoloft without your doctor’s recommendation. Only take Zoloft exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your current dosage.
Here are some examples of questions you may want to ask your doctor:
- If I have bothersome side effects from Zoloft, could my dosage be lowered?
- How will we determine what dose of Zoloft is right for me?
- Do I need to decrease my dose over time if I want to stop taking Zoloft?
To learn more about Zoloft, see these articles:
- Zoloft (sertraline)
- Side Effects of Zoloft: What You Need to Know
- Zoloft Interactions: Alcohol, Medications, and Others
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