Does sertraline affect fitness? (5+ side effects affecting)

In this article, we will discuss whether sertraline affects fitness. We will also discuss some research studies and what sertraline-induced side effects can potentially impact fitness. 

Does sertraline affect fitness?

Sertraline does not directly affect fitness but may cause some side effects that could impact your fitness goals and overall productivity. Sertraline, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants and is usually well-tolerated (1,2). 

However, some people might experience side effects such as weight gain, increased appetite, slow metabolism, etc, that can affect your fitness. Some sertraline-induced side effects can influence your overall energy levels, which are crucial for staying fit and active. 

However, it does not directly impact fitness and is not commonly associated with weight gain compared to other SSRIs and mirtazapine. If you think that sertraline is affecting your fitness, please reach out to your doctor and learn productive ways to mitigate side effects.

What does research suggest?

There is limited research on the direct effects of sertraline on fitness or exercise. However, some studies do explore the relationship between the two. 

One research study, involving 12 young men, indicated that sertraline does not hurt exercising and may not affect energy levels. In this study, participants did not experience any adverse effects on their fitness or exercise (3). 

Other research studies suggest that exercising while taking sertraline might enhance the effects of the antidepressant and provide better symptomatic relief (4).

However, it’s important to note that some sertraline-induced side effects can impact fitness or make it challenging to stay active, such as low energy levels, muscle pain, joint pain, dizziness, etc. (5)

In rare cases, sertraline can cause rhabdomyolysis, a severe muscular side effect that can hinder individuals from remaining active or exercising (6). Generally, research does not frequently report weight gain with this antidepressant. 

Some studies even indicate that sertraline might inhibit fat deposition and contribute to weight reduction (7).

What sertraline-induced side effects can affect fitness?

Some sertraline-induced side effects can impact fitness, including: (5)

Side effects Impact on fitness
low energy levelsMake workouts difficult and reduce motivation.
weight gainimpacts mobility and may affect body image and motivation.
nausea or upset stomachdiscomfort during exercise; reluctance for physical activity.
sexual dysfunctionpotential decrease in libido or sexual motivation.
dizziness or lightheadednessincreased risk of injury during exercise; may limit intensity.
joint pain or muscle paindiscomfort and reduced flexibility during physical activity.
insomniaLack of sleep affects energy levels and exercise performance.

These side effects can vary from person to person and can affect them differently. Some adverse reactions may need immediate medical attention.

What other factors can affect fitness while taking sertraline?

Several factors can affect fitness while taking sertraline, including:

Poor diet

A diet lacking in essential nutrients can impact overall health and fitness. Ensure a balanced diet with adequate vitamins, minerals, and protein to support your well-being.

Sedentary lifestyle 

Lack of physical activity may contribute to decreased fitness levels. Leading a sedentary lifestyle is one of the main reasons why your fitness might be affected.

Underlying health conditions

Certain health conditions may affect your ability to stay fit. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider, who can guide managing both your health condition and fitness goals.

Use of other medications

Some medications may influence fitness or interact with sertraline. Inform your healthcare provider about all medications you are taking to ensure they are compatible and won’t affect your fitness journey.

Genetic factors

Individual genetic makeup can influence how the body responds to medications and lifestyle changes. Some people might be susceptible to weight gain in general, which can affect their fitness goals.

How to maintain your fitness while taking sertraline?

The following ways can help manage your fitness goals:

Regular exercise and strength training

Engage in regular physical activity, such as walking, jogging, or strength training exercises. Exercise not only promotes physical fitness but also positively impacts mental well-being.

Healthy eating

Ensure a balanced and nutritious diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Proper nutrition supports overall health and can complement your fitness goals.

Discussing side effects with your doctor

Consulting with your healthcare provider is crucial. Discuss any side effects you experience, including those that may impact your fitness routine. Your doctor can provide guidance and potentially adjust your medication if needed.

Timing of medication

If sertraline affects your energy levels, consider discussing the timing of your medication with your doctor. For instance, taking it at night if it causes tiredness or in the morning if it leads to insomnia can help manage side effects and improve your overall energy levels.

What are the safer alternatives to sertraline if it affects fitness?

If sertraline is significantly affecting your energy levels or causing weight gain, energy-boosting antidepressants such as Wellbutrin (bupropion) might be considered good alternatives. 

Although sertraline does not impact fitness to a point where one thinks of discontinuing it, people are different and can respond differently to medications. Some sertraline-induced side effects can make you feel like a zombie and affect your overall fitness. 

In such cases, it’s best to reach out to your provider and discuss ways to mitigate these side effects. 

As a pharmacist, I always recommend following your doctor’s directions properly and keeping a close eye on the side effects. It is also important to report those side effects to ensure whether sertraline is the right choice of medication for you. 

If it is not, and your doctor believes that there is a safer, more effective alternative out there for you, they will safely switch you to it. Do not make any changes to your prescription or stop sertraline abruptly.


  1. Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from:
  1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use. Available from:
  1. Parise G, Bosman MJ, Boecker DR, Barry MJ, Tarnopolsky MA. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: Their effect on high-intensity exercise performance. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2001 Jul;82(7):867-71. doi: 10.1053/apmr.2001.23275. PMID: 11441370.
  1. Blumenthal JA, Sherwood A, Babyak MA, Watkins LL, Smith PJ, Hoffman BM, O’Hayer CV, Mabe S, Johnson J, Doraiswamy PM, Jiang W, Schocken DD, Hinderliter AL. Exercise and pharmacological treatment of depressive symptoms in patients with coronary heart disease: results from the UPBEAT (Understanding the Prognostic Benefits of Exercise and Antidepressant Therapy) study. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012 Sep 18;60(12):1053-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2012.04.040. Epub 2012 Aug 1. PMID: 22858387; PMCID: PMC3498445. 
  1. National Library of Medicine. Sertraline: MedlinePlus Drug Information [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available from:
  1. Snyder M, Kish T. Sertraline-Induced Rhabdomyolysis: A Case Report and Literature Review. Am J Ther. 2016 Mar-Apr;23(2):e561-5. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000000196. PMID: 25581857. 
  1. Silverstein-Metzler MG, Shively CA, Clarkson TB, Appt SE, Carr JJ, Kritchevsky SB, Jones SR, Register TC. Sertraline inhibits increases in body fat and carbohydrate dysregulation in adult female cynomolgus monkeys. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016 Jun;68:29-38. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.02.012. Epub 2016 Feb 21. PMID: 26939086; PMCID: PMC5319600. 

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!