Does jaw clenching go away with zoloft?

In this blog, we are going to talk about zoloft associated jaw clenching and we will answer the question, “Does jaw clenching go away with zoloft?”. We will also talk about some underlying conditions that might be causing such problems, even without your knowledge. 

When we are taking medications and experience some new symptoms, our mind immediately goes to our medication and we jump to concluding that certain medication is responsible for these symptoms. 

Most of the time, it is true but not always. This is exactly why we will discuss other common causes of jaw clenching. 

Does zoloft induced jaw clenching go away?

Zoloft induced jaw clenching usually begins to subside within 3 to 4 weeks of treatment, when your body becomes used to the medication, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, the medicine causes unwanted side effects simply because it isn’t a right choice for you.

Jaw clenching, for which another term ‘bruxism’ is also used, is a condition when you clench or tighten your jaw and grind your teeth. Now there are a few explanations why zoloft makes you clench your jaw. Jaw clenching during sleep is also common among zoloft users. 

Few studies suggest that SSRIs increase the amount of serotonin in your body, but over time they can reduce the quantity of dopamine. Dopamine is another excitatory neurotransmitter that gives you energy, motivation and reward feeling. 

Dopamine also controls muscle function. This dopamine depletion causes abnormal muscle control and affects your motor activity. This is why you experience symptoms like jaw clenching, teeth grinding, tremors or Parkinson’s-like symptoms, while you’re on zoloft. 

One study related jaw spasm reversible disorder with the use of antidepressants and proved that bruxism can be a side effect of antidepressant therapy. The same study also recommended the use of Buspirone to provide relief from antidepressant associated bruxism.

During an episode of jaw clenching, you may experience:

  • Loud teeth grinding or clenching 
  • Pain in jaw muscles and tightening. 
  • Difficulty in chewing
  • Pain in the entire face and neck
  • Inability to fall asleep 
  • Inability to speak properly in severe cases, where it becomes difficult to open and close your jaw easily. 
  • Damaged teeth
  • Gum bleeding 

How to get rid of jaw clenching? 

First approach to say goodbye to jaw clenching for good is dose reduction. If there is a possibility of reducing your antidepressant dose, this is the first thing your healthcare provider would do. 

One research study suggests Buspirone 5 to 10mg, 2 to 3 times a day can be considered an effective treatment for bruxism. This is beneficial for people who can not opt for dose reduction or else their depression might eat them away. 

Your healthcare provider might suggest you to use a mouth guard that can reduce the impact of bruxism on your jaw muscles and teeth. The use of muscle relaxants also help to relax your jaw muscles and can provide relief. 

Botox injections are also used but they’re not free from side effects. Injections tend to make muscles weak as they work by paralysing them. 

Other medications that can cause jaw clenching

There are some other medications that can cause jaw clenching as well. Although, SSRIs are pretty much considered the most common medicines causing this side effect, other medications are also included:

  • Other antidepressants, especially Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like venlafaxine, desvenlafaxine, milnacipran, levomilnacipran. 
  • Antipsychotics or medications to manage mania
  • Dopamine agents like levodopa, Metoclopramide etc
  • Lithium
  • Substance abuse 

Common medical causes of jaw clenching

There are a few common causes of jaw clenching. These include:

Stress and anxiety 

Anxiety is considered a symptom of jaw clenching. It is important to discuss this with your healthcare provider to avoid any further damage to your condition. This is a sign of extreme stress or anxiety. 

Psychosis and mania

Jaw clenching is linked with psychotic behaviour as well. In fact, it is the most common symptom in people exhibiting psychosis and manic episodes. This can clearly indicate brain and muscle deterioration. 

Parkinson’s disease

Jaw clenching is also pretty common in people suffering from Parkinson’s or other neurodegenerative diseases. Make sure you do not have underlying, undiagnosed disease. 

Aggressive personality 

You must have seen people clenching their jaws when they are trying to control their anger. Now think of someone who’s angry 24/7. Yes, this condition is common with people who have aggressive personalities and a minor inconvenience can easily set off the timer of their ticking bomb. 

Family history

It’s unusual to believe that people have a family history of jaw clenching, but it’s true. It’s often associated with how they naturally move their jaws. 


There are a few precautionary measures you can take to prevent your condition from getting worse. These are:

  • Cut back on alcohol and caffeine, at least for a while until your jaw clenching goes away. 
  • Do not eat anything that needs excess chewing like bubble gum or chewable toffees. 
  • Try jaw exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles. Stretching helps too. 
  • Use warm or cold press (whichever suits you best and provide pain relief). 
  • Try to distract and stop yourself from clenching your jaw. I know you don’t want to clench your jaw, it involuntarily happens but you might control it if you try. 

When to call your doctor 

If your symptoms get worse or you feel unbearable jaw pain or gum bleeding, it means your antidepressant is severely affecting you. You either need a dose reduction or zoloft is simply not the right med for you. 

You need to discuss your side effects with your mental healthcare provider and closely follow his instructions. Do not stop zoloft abruptly if you get too sick and tired of your side effects, especially if you’re on higher doses. 

Your doctor will ask you to follow a proper taper schedule, if he finds it necessary to change your antidepressant. If you follow non-adherence and stop zoloft in a day, you will suffer from following symptoms:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting 
  • Nausea
  • Headaches 
  • Excess sweating/night sweats
  • Disturbed sleep, insomnia, nightmares
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • You might feel something called brain zaps, which feels like a shock firing in your brain 
  • Heightened anxiety and nervousness
  • Mood swings

How to properly administer zoloft

Zoloft is available in both tablet and oral liquid form. 

  • Tablets:

Tablets can be taken with food or on an empty stomach. It’s best to eat something before taking it, in order to avoid acid reflux. Make sure you take it as directed by your healthcare provider. 

  • Oral solution:

Oral solution comes with a measuring device. Measure the amount accurately. You can dilute it in water. If water is too bland for you, you can mix it in some lemonade, ginger ale or lemon soda, to mask the taste better.

Other side effects of zoloft

Common side effects of Zoloft include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling angry or agitated
  • Weight gain
  • Inability to digest food
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of libido
  • Sweating/Night sweats
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Impotence
  • Inability to ejaculate

Zoloft also causes some serious side effects which require immediate medical attention. Such side effects include:

  • Convulsions 
  • The inability to have an erection
  • Hypothyroidism (low thyroid gland function)
  • Bone marrow failure associated with low blood counts
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Neutropenia 
  • Abnormal behaviour/mania 
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling guilty all the time
  • Extrapyramidal symptoms
  • Allergic reactions, like rash, hives are common. It also includes wheezing, difficulty in breathing, tightness in the chest, trouble breathing, swallowing, or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat. Few of these symptoms indicate anaphylactic shock. 
  • It could cause low sodium levels which can result in psychological symptoms like confusion, agitation, inability to understand surroundings, memory loss etc.
  • It can cause elongation of QT interval, causing increased heartbeat or arrhythmia
  • Skin allergy, which could include Stevens-Johnson. You might notice red, swollen, or blistered skin, with or without fever. 

If you experience any above mentioned symptoms, immediately reach out to your healthcare provider. 


In this blog, we discussed zoloft associated jaw clenching/bruxism/teeth grinding, whatever you call it. It causes jaw muscle pain, pain in your gums, inability to eat or speak in severe cases. 

We have also discussed what other medical conditions could cause this side effect. So if you’re someone with an aggressive personality, you know what can make your condition worse.  

FAQs: does jaw clenching go away with zoloft

Does sertraline jaw clenching go away?

Sertraline associated jaw clenching usually goes away within about 4 weeks of drug withdrawal. If leaving your antidepressant is not an option, your doctor might reduce your dose, if possible. 

Do most Zoloft side effects go away?

Zoloft associated side effects usually begin to fade away within 3 to 4 weeks of treatment. This depends on your dose and your tolerance as well. If you tolerate zoloft well, you might recover from side-effects earlier. 

If you can not tolerate zoloft well or on a very high dose, your healthcare provider may adjust your dose or change your antidepressant. 

What medication helps with jaw clenching?

Following medications can be used to help with jaw clenching:

  • Buspirone 
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Botox injections
  • Antianxiety (if your anxiety is causing it) 

How long does it take to feel the effects of Zoloft?

Antidepressants, unlike other common medicines, need time to work. They usually take up to 3 to 4 weeks, depending on the person, to start making changes in serotonin levels. It might take longer for some people to start getting benefits from antidepressants. 

What is jaw clenching a symptom of?

Jaw clenching could be a symptom of

  • Stress and anxiety 
  • Psychosis or mania
  • Aggressive personality  
  • Family history 
  • Childhood 

Which medication may lead to bruxism?

Following medications can cause bruxism:

  • Antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like sertraline, citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine etc and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like venlafaxine, desvenlafaxine, milnacipran, levomilnacipran 
  • Antipsychotics or medications to manage mania
  • Dopamine agents like levodopa, Metoclopramide etc
  • Lithium
  • Substance abuse 


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