Zoloft is a popular medication that is used to treat depression and anxiety. The generic name of Zoloft is sertraline hydrochloride, an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) that works by increasing the level of serotonin or “feel-good hormone” in the brain.
When a person takes Zoloft, it could help improve mood, appetite, energy, and sleep. It has been shown to be an effective mode of treatment for people with depression, social anxiety, and panic attacks.
Unlike benzos, however, Zoloft is not a drug that provides instant effect. It could take up to six weeks for a user to feel that the drug is working. Because of this, it is not unlikely for people to become dependent on Zoloft and keep on taking it even if they do not need the drug any longer.
There are also other people who confuse Zoloft with other anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and Klonopin. There is a misconception that Zoloft could give similar effects so they try to abuse Zoloft or use the drug recreationally. Doing so can be dangerous because while Zoloft can be a safe treatment for people who have a legitimate prescription, abusing Zoloft or taking it longer than necessary could lead to serious side effects.
Below are just five of the side effects that a person taking Zoloft could experience.
1. Gastrointestinal problems
People who are taking Zoloft can frequently have gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, indigestion, bloating, nausea, and diarrhea. These are some of the most common side effects of taking this antidepressant medication. According to Dr. James Murrough from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, people on Zoloft can experience changes in their gastrointestinal function because there is actually a lot of serotonin in the GI tract. If you are experiencing these symptoms persistently, you should consult with your doctor to see whether the dosage should be lowered until your body becomes accustomed to the medication.
If you are taking Zoloft without a prescription, it is important to note that doing so could affect your gut even after stopping the drug.
2. Sexual Disorders
Another common side effect of taking Zoloft is having sexual disorders. Some examples of how Zoloft has affected users include lack of sex drive, inability to maintain an erection in men, delayed or failure in ejaculating, and difficulty in reaching orgasm. These problems reportedly affect 1/3 of patients taking Zoloft but this figure could be more as not all Zoloft users are comfortable in discussing these with their doctor. Some patients, however, may need a change in medication if these sexual side effects are bothering them.
3. Weight Gain
Do you know that up to a quarter of people taking antidepressant drugs including Zoloft experience weight gain of around 10 pounds? While this may be advantageous to people who have lost weight due to their depression issues, this could be an unexpected side effect for people who are trying to maintain weight or those with obesity issues.
According to studies, the weight gain was not initially noticed during clinical trials that were 8 to 12 weeks in length and it seemed that the weight gain generally occurs with long-term use (six months or more). If you are dependent on Zoloft and you are taking it longer than what was recommended, this could be a side effect you could experience.
4. Psychiatric Symptoms
Depression and anxiety are two of the most common psychiatric conditions experienced by Americans today. If you have these conditions, your doctor could prescribe you Zoloft as a first-line of treatment. But do you know that it is also possible for you to experience more adverse psychiatric symptoms brought about by Zoloft use?
There have been reports of Zoloft users experiencing mood changes, behavioral changes, increased depression, agitation, memory loss, impulsiveness, and hallucinations after taking Zoloft.
Another psychiatric side effect that should be carefully monitored in people taking Zoloft is having suicidal thoughts, especially in adolescents. If you are taking Zoloft and you experience suicidal thoughts or your psychiatric symptoms become more severe, contact your doctor immediately.
5. Drug Overdose
Because Zoloft is a popular drug used to treat depression and anxiety, some people have the misconception that it is a benzodiazepine like Xanax. People who are used to abusing Xanax because it could give them instant relaxation and calmness think that abusing Zoloft will provide the same effect.
However, because Zoloft is an SSRI that is effective only after a longer period of use, it will not give an instant effect. It can take weeks before a depression patient can feel the positive effects delivered by Zoloft. People who are abusing Zoloft may not be aware of this and it is possible for them to increase the dosage of the drug or mix it with other substances, thinking it will be more effective. Taking too much Zoloft and combining it with other substances could lead to a drug overdose.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, help is available.
Contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today.