Can you increase your Zoloft on your own? (5+ potential side effects)
You can increase your Zoloft dose on your own, but you shouldn’t. Taking a higher dose is easy, as you just have to take more than the recommended dose. However, the main question is – should you?
Zoloft is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, which is generally considered well-tolerated (1,2). It’s common for healthcare providers to start from a low dose and increase it over time to help your body adjust to it. However, it’s not something you should do on your own.
Dose escalation may not be smooth for everyone, and some people may experience more pronounced side effects when their dose is increased. It is also important to note that dose escalation should be done gradually, and only a qualified healthcare professional can determine how much of your dose needs to be increased.
It is also worth noting that Zoloft can take time to work, regardless of the dose. So, if you’re in the early course of your treatment, you should give your antidepressant some time to work. If your doctor believes that you require a higher dose now, they will guide you accordingly.
What are the risks of increasing your Zoloft dosage on your own?
Increasing your Zoloft dose without the guidance of your provider can subject you to Zoloft-induced side effects, which may include: (2,3)
- excessive tiredness
- dry mouth
- loss of appetite
- weight changes
- Excessive sweating
- Sexual side effects
These side effects can vary from person to person and depend on how much extra dose you are currently taking. This is exactly why it is important to never increase your dose on your own because when your provider does it, they monitor your progress.
Your doctor will ask you to keep an eye on side effects and adjust your treatment accordingly. Some people may feel terrible after dose escalation, and their doctors have to readjust the dose to help their bodies adjust.
What to do if you want to increase your Zoloft dose?
If you think you need a higher Zoloft dose, please reach out to your provider. Your doctor will determine whether it’s time to increase your dose.
If your body is tolerating your current dose well but you haven’t given it enough time to work, your doctor may ask you to wait a little and see if it makes any difference.
However, increasing antidepressant dosage is common, and your doctor will switch you to a higher dose if your body is responding well to Zoloft in general. However, dose escalation does require close monitoring, as people may start to experience new side effects on a higher dose.
Several surveys have revealed that people may develop new side effects that they did not experience during the initial phase of their treatment after dose escalation. This is why doing it without proper guidance can be dangerous, and one should never take such things into their own hands.
So, if your doctor does increase your dose, they will ask you to monitor your side effects and give tips to manage them as well. However, it is important to note that some people might not be able to tolerate higher doses, and lower doses may not provide sufficient therapeutic activity.
It can become difficult for providers to find the right balance in some cases, as people are different and can respond differently to medications. So make sure you work closely with your provider and discuss anything that concerns you with your doctor. Changing anything on your own is not a smart move.
The typical dosage adjustment of Zoloft includes:
|25 mg once a day
|Initial starting dose.
|50 mg once a day
|If tolerated well, may increase to 50 mg.
|50 mg once a day (or 75 mg if a higher dose is needed)
|Depending on response and side effects.
|50-75 mg (or higher – maximum daily dose is 200 mg)
|Maximum recommended daily dose.
What if you can’t tolerate a higher Zoloft dose?
If your dose has recently been escalated and you feel unusual, please talk to your doctor. If you can’t reach out to your doctor for some reason, you can go back to your previous dose. This can help manage your side effects until you get a hold of your doctor.
However, it is important to make sure that you do not stop the medication abruptly. This can trigger withdrawal symptoms which may affect you even more. So it’s best to discuss your side effects with your doctor for safe and effective ways to mitigate them.
Coping with the increased dose
In my experience as a pharmacist, I have come across people who struggled after changing their doses without consulting their providers first. If you think Zoloft is not working well enough and your dose needs to be increased to produce a stronger antidepressant effect, you should talk to your doctor.
I also suggest giving Zoloft some time to kick in. Antidepressants do not work right away, and I have seen some people taking 8 weeks to finally observe noticeable changes in their mental health.
We all have unique body physiology, and we recover at different rates, even with medications. So trust the process and keep working with your doctor to enhance your physical and mental well-being.
- Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547689
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use. Available from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/019839s74s86s87_20990s35s44s45lbl.pdf
- National Library of Medicine. Sertraline: MedlinePlus Drug Information [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a697048.html