How does Zoloft affect your personality? (5+ related side effects)

How does Zoloft affect your personality?

Zoloft does not necessarily affect your personality but can cause side effects that can lead to temporary changes in how you respond to things. Zoloft, also known as sertraline, is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants worldwide, and it is generally well-tolerated (1). 

However, this antidepressant is associated with some side effects that can make you feel differently or react to things in not-your-usual ways. Now, it doesn’t mean that Zoloft changes your personality or anything, but the side effects can temporarily affect you. 

Some of these side effects get better with time as your treatment with the antidepressant continues and your body accepts it or adjusts to it. However, it might not go down the same road in every case. 

Some people may experience serious and persistent personality-related side effects that affect the quality of their life and require Zoloft discontinuation to get better. 

Some of these cases have other factors involved, such as individual variability, genetics, underlying psychosis, or the use of multiple prescription medications or recreational drugs. So, every case is different and requires different treatment adjustments. 

If you feel different after taking Zoloft, and a kind of difference that you did not feel before sertraline treatment, you should report it to your doctor. However, one important thing to note is that depression itself can affect personalities. 

It can isolate you, make you talk less, socialise less, and do much more to damage your mental and emotional well-being. So, it is important to make sure that your current personality changes are linked to the antidepressant, and not the condition it is treating.

What Zoloft-induced side effects can affect your personality?

Several Zoloft-induced side effects can affect your personality, including:


It is a known fact that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), although they’re approved for anxiety and related symptoms, can increase anxiety or cause anxiety during the early course of treatment (2). 

This usually happens because SSRIs like Zoloft primarily increase serotonergic activity in the brain (3). This may make some people anxious, as their bodies are not used to feeling that way. Serotonin is one of the happy chemicals in your body and has a lot of physiological and psychological functions. 

This anxiety might seem like a red flag, especially for people who were not initially experiencing anxiety. However, this does get better with time and is considered a temporary side effect. Once Zoloft kicks in and helps manage your condition, it can alleviate anxiety-related symptoms.

Mood swings

Zoloft may also cause mood swings in some cases, especially during the early course of treatment. Such changes are also attributed to the increased serotonergic activity in the brain and may get better with time as your body adjusts to this change.

Emotional blunting or apathy

Emotional blunting and apathy are considered frequently reported side effects of Zoloft and other SSRIs (4). Several case reports show people being emotionally numb, losing interest in things they used to enjoy, and even isolating themselves from people they love and care about. 

Research studies do show that it is considered a temporary side effect and responds quite well to dose reductions (5). However, it can lead to Zoloft withdrawal if persistent, as apathy or emotional numbness can significantly affect the quality of your life. 

However, if your apathy is linked to depression, Zoloft can help reverse it by managing your symptoms.


Depersonalization or derealization is another reported side effect of Zoloft. This condition is characterised by a sense of detachment or feeling disconnected from one’s own thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations (6). Individuals experiencing depersonalization may perceive themselves as if they are observing their own lives from a distance. 

Zoloft can trigger such symptoms in some individuals. However, some case reports show that sertraline – the active drug in Zoloft – can help with depersonalization in some cases, especially if it’s linked to a mental health condition that Zoloft is primarily used to treat (7).

Anger and agitation 

Anger and agitation are also known as potential side effects of Zoloft. However, anger is not that commonly reported with this antidepressant. It is important to note that people are different and can respond differently to Zoloft or other antidepressants. 

The change in your brain chemistry linked to these medications can generate varied responses, and some people may show signs of anger and agitation.

Unmasking underlying psychosis

Unmasked psychosis with SSRIs is another important point to discuss in cases of personality changes after taking these medications. 

This is because Zoloft and related SSRIs are usually contraindicated to be used in people with some psychotic conditions, such as bipolar disorder – as these drugs can unmask or trigger underlying psychotic symptoms or significant personality changes in such individuals. 

So if you’re observing serious changes in your personality, you should talk to your provider. Sertraline may not cause such changes on its own, and other factors – including the use of other prescription medications (if any) and underlying health conditions should be discussed.

What to do if Zoloft affects your personality?

As discussed earlier, it’s best to reach out to your doctor if you’re observing personality changes while taking Zoloft. These changes could be linked to the antidepressant and how it makes you feel, or they could be a symptom of an underlying, undiagnosed psychiatric issue. 

Your doctor will adjust your treatment plan accordingly. Some options include:

Interventions Details 
Dose reductionA lower dose may help mitigate unwanted effects.
PsychotherapyEngaging in psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), can provide valuable support in addressing changes in mood, behaviour, or personality.
Add-on treatmentsYour healthcare provider may explore additional treatments or medications to complement Zoloft. This could include augmenting with other drugs or therapies to better manage symptoms.
Ruling out psychosisIn some cases, significant personality changes may be linked to underlying conditions like psychosis. It’s crucial to rule out serious mental health issues through a thorough evaluation

The effects of antidepressants on personality

In my experience as a pharmacist, I have seen people struggling with personality changes while taking Zoloft. However, most of the cases that I have experienced had other comorbidities. This suggests that people can have different underlying factors that can affect their response to Zoloft or any other medication that can affect the brain. 

However, some case reports show significant changes in one’s personality solely linked to this antidepressant. So, it’s best to discuss anything that concerns you with your doctor to ensure a safe and effective response to your prescription medications.


  1. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use. Available from:
  1. Näslund J, Hieronymus F, Emilsson JF, Lisinski A, Nilsson S, Eriksson E. Incidence of early anxiety aggravation in trials of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in depression. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2017 Oct;136(4):343-351. doi: 10.1111/acps.12784. Epub 2017 Aug 31. PMID: 28859218. 
  1. Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from:
  1. Sato S, Asada T. Sertraline-induced apathy syndrome. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2011 Winter;23(1):E19. doi: 10.1176/jnp.23.1.jnpe19. PMID: 21304117. 
  1. Kodela S, Venkata PD. Antidepressant-induced apathy responsive to dose reduction. Psychopharmacol Bull. 2010;43(4):76-9. PMID: 21240154. 
  1. Simeon D. Depersonalisation disorder: a contemporary overview. CNS Drugs. 2004;18(6):343-54. doi: 10.2165/00023210-200418060-00002. PMID: 15089102.
  1. Belli H, Akbudak M, Ural C, Aslaner D. A Case of Depersonalization with Treatment-resistant Depression Successfully Treated with Sertraline-lamotrigine Combination. West Indian Med J. 2014 Jan;63(1):115. doi: 10.7727/wimj.2012.303. Epub 2014 Mar 17. PMID: 25303205; PMCID: PMC4655617. 

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