Does sertraline help with grief? (5+ ways to manage it)

In this article, we will discuss whether sertraline can manage your grief. We will also talk about the link between grief and clinical depression and some other ways one could use to manage it.

Does sertraline help with grief?

Sertraline can help with grief if it’s making you depressed. Grief is a natural response to a sad event, like the loss of a loved one. It is not characterised as an illness, and everyone goes through it at some point in their lives. 

Sertraline is not primarily used to manage grief since it’s not an illness. Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor primarily used as an antidepressant and can also help manage other conditions like anxiety, OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), etc. (1,2)

Grief can trigger depression in some individuals, making sertraline a good option for such cases. However, sertraline has its pros and cons, and may not be a good option for everyone.

What does research suggest?

There is limited research on the effects of sertraline solely for grief, and it is not primarily prescribed for that. In fact, there is no ‘approved’ medication for grief, as it is not scientifically considered a disease or a health condition. 

However, it can trigger depression in some people, which could become severe and require medical attention. Research indicates that sertraline is a safe and effective antidepressant for the management of depression (3). 

It actively inhibits the reuptake of serotonin by blocking serotonin transporters (SERT). This increases the availability of serotonin in the brain, which is a monoamine excitatory neurotransmitter involved in the pathophysiology of depression (1,2). 

Sertraline can help manage depression within 4-6 weeks, and this can aid in coping with grief (3). Some people may experience PTSD after a traumatic event, like an accident or losing a loved one right in front of their eyes. 

Such events are associated with depression and grief comorbid with PTSD. Sertraline can also help manage such conditions. Research indicates that sertraline is a well-tolerated option for the management of PTSD symptoms and can make you feel better within a month (4). 

This suggests that while sertraline might not be solely used to treat grief, it can manage depression or PTSD triggered by the event that made you grieve.

What is the connection between grief and depression?

Depression is closely linked to grief. Losing a loved one or facing betrayal can lead to depression. Typically, everyone goes through such a phase of grief, and it’s a part of life. It is considered the body’s natural response to such events, and people usually get over it eventually. 

Time is considered the best medication for grief, as it is what you need to move on with your life. However, some people do not cope well and may fall into a pit of depression. Some individuals may experience symptoms such as:

  • Persistent sadness or feelings of emptiness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Persistent physical symptoms, such as body aches, headaches, digestive issues, etc.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

These symptoms can vary from person to person and depend on the severity of grief comorbid with depression. These symptoms do need medical attention, and antidepressants like sertraline can help make such people feel better. 

However, antidepressants are prescription medications and should only be taken when prescribed by a doctor. Some people may also fall into addictions or start using drugs recreationally.

It depends on how an individual deals with their grief, but such unhealthy practices can make the entire process even worse. So, it’s important to remain sane and make the right decisions when you’re dealing with something like this. 

If you think you’re not in a state to make the right choices, please seek professional help.

What are the non-pharmacological ways of managing grief?

Some ways of managing grief without taking any medication include: 

  • Talk to a loved one. Share your feelings with family or friends. Connect with people who bring you comfort and understanding.
  • Seek therapy. Professional support or grief counselling can provide guidance and coping strategies tailored to your individual needs (5).
  • Try attending support groups. They are particularly beneficial for those dealing with trauma or PTSD, support groups offer a platform to share experiences and help you realise that you’re not alone in your struggles.
  • Engage in enjoyable activities and reconnect with hobbies or activities that once brought joy. This can help you bring back to your normal routine
  • Find distractions. Explore healthy distractions, whether it’s reading, watching movies, or engaging in creative activities. Temporary breaks from grief can be essential for emotional well-being.
  • Regular workouts contribute to both physical and mental well-being. Exercise releases endorphins, improving mood and your overall health.

As a pharmacist, I have come across many people who couldn’t deal with their grief. It’s a natural process and takes time for you to adapt to it. However, it could be a painful and nerve-racking process, affecting some people more than others. In such cases, a low-dose antidepressant can be beneficial.

However, antidepressants are prescription medications that should not be taken without a doctor’s approval.


  1. Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from:
  2. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use. Available from:
  3. Lewis G, Duffy L, Ades A, Amos R, Araya R, Brabyn S, Button KS, Churchill R, Derrick C. The clinical effectiveness of sertraline in primary care and the role of depression severity and duration (PANDA): a pragmatic, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial. Lancet Psychiatry. 2019 Nov;6(11):903-914. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30366-9. Epub 2019 Sep 19. PMID: 31543474; PMCID: PMC7029306. 
  1. Londborg PD, Hegel MT, Goldstein S, Goldstein D, Himmelhoch JM, Maddock R, Patterson WM, Rausch J, Farfel GM. Sertraline treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder: results of 24 weeks of open-label continuation treatment. J Clin Psychiatry. 2001 May;62(5):325-31. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v62n0503. PMID: 11411812.
  1. Waller A, Turon H, Mansfield E, Clark K, Hobden B, Sanson-Fisher R. Assisting the bereaved: A systematic review of the evidence for grief counselling. Palliat Med. 2016 Feb;30(2):132-48. doi: 10.1177/0269216315588728. Epub 2015 Sep 28. PMID: 26415735. 

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