Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life, but it should not be so intense it interferes with your daily activities. Excessive worry or fear can be improved through the use of the prescribed medication Zoloft.
What Is Zoloft?
Zoloft, also known as sertraline, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that is usually used to treat depression. This medication contains the active ingredient sertraline hydrochloride. The manner by which Zoloft helps with anxiety is not fully understood but like most SSRI's, this drug works to balance the level of serotonin in the brain to lift your mood.
When Is Sertraline Prescribed?
If you suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), you may experience persistent, unrealistic, and exaggerated fears that are disabling. This state of constant worry can be physically and emotionally exhausting, and you should talk to your health care provider about starting a pharmacological agent such as sertraline.
Sertraline is available as a pill or oral solution. The solution must be diluted before the medication is taken. The American Academy of Family Physicians notes an initial dose of 25 to 50 mg once a day is usually given, gradually increasing to 50 to 200 mg daily. UptoDate, a clinical decision tool, notes your medication will be increased based on your response to dosing and your ability to tolerate the drug. Generally, it takes between two to six weeks for your anxiety symptoms to improve using when using an SSRI. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. To help you remember, take your medicine at the same time every day. Do not double your next dose or take more medicine than prescribed.
Do not stop taking your medication suddenly as this may cause nausea, sweating, irritability, agitation, dizziness, burning sensation in hands or feet, tremor, lethargy, confusion, anxiety, headache, insomnia, hypomania, ringing in the ears, or seizures. You may need to stop taking your medication immediately because of adverse effects or pregnancy. When stopping your medication, you should do this gradually. It is important for you to discuss how to stop your medication with your healthcare provider.
Zoloft Side Effects
Zoloft is generally a safe medication and well-tolerated. You can, however, experience minor side effects when using this drug. These include:
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Upset stomach
More serious side effects include:
- Bruising or bleeding easily
- Decreased libido
- Ejaculation failure
- Erectile dysfunction
- Muscle cramps/weakness
- Unusual weight loss
Although it's rare, some people may experience serotonin syndrome, a serious adverse reaction to taking this drug. Symptoms include:
- Change in balance or coordination
- Fast or abnormal heartbeat
- Muscle twitching or stiffness
Abnormal bleeding is another serious side effect. Symptoms include bruising or bleeding more easily than normal.
Get medical help right away if you notice these side effects. Speak with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing side effects that are troublesome or do not go away.
Medication Warnings and Precautions
It's essential to discuss the herbal products, as as well as the over-the-counter and prescription drugs you are currently taking with your healthcare provider because there may be interactions when these medications are taken together. The Federal Drug Administration notes some medication interactions include:
- Serotonin syndrome: The risk increases when Zoloft is taken with another SSRI such as Prozac, or with a SNRI such as Cymbalta.
- Increased bleeding: Sertraline may increase bleeding when used with aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antiplatelet drugs, warfarin, and other anticoagulants.
- Do not use monoamine oxidase inhibitors: Do not take this medicine with MAO antidepressants. There can be a serious and fatal reaction between these drugs. You should allow for 14 days between stopping an MAOI antidepressant and starting Zoloft because of the increased risk of serotonin syndrome.
- Do not use alcohol: Liquid sertraline should not be taken at the same time as disulfiram (Antabuse) because the alcohol content may react with the medication.
- More seizure activity: Use medicine with caution if you have a seizure disorder.
WebMD notes this medicine can make you sleepy or dizzy so do not drive or operate machinery until you know how you will be affected.
Severe anxiety can greatly impact your quality of life. Using sertraline consistently under the direction of a healthcare provider can help you gain physical and emotional balance.