Is sertraline addictive? (An Update)

The generic name for one of the most popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), which is also commonly known as an antidepressant is Sertraline and is sold under the brand name of Zoloft.

This meditation is used to treat major cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, major depressors, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and even sometimes premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Zoloft was first developed and marketed by Pfizer in the UK during the 1990s and was later approved for sale in 1999 in the US.

The effects of Zoloft were so powerful that it became the top and the most popular antidepressant in the US by 2005.

In this article, we will discuss Is sertraline addictive?

As sertraline is related to the family of SSRIs, this medication improves and elevates mood by moderating the way the brain uses serotonin.

If there is not enough serotonin present in the brain of an individual, they can experience feelings of sadness, depression, anhedonia, and low physical energy and mood as the neurotransmitter in the brain are closely tied with the mood of the individual.

SSRIs help to slow down the absorption rate of this serotonin which results in the availability of the neurotransmitter for a longer period of time in the synapses which results in better communication between neurons and can help elevate the mood of the individual and reduce depression or sad feelings.

This better communication between the neurons can also help the individual to feel more energized and can replenish the physical strength and makes their mood better.

In this article, we will discuss Is sertraline addictive?

Prescription Dosing for Sertraline or Zoloft

Sertraline is available in different types such as a liquid solution, capsule, and also as a tablet.

This medicine is only taken once per day and that too orally with water or direct.

It can take some weeks before the medication is fully effective on the individual to treat the symptoms of psychiatric health problems, so the important part for the individual while taking this medication is to be patient and keep taking on the medication of sertraline as prescribed by the doctor.

Tablets also come in different packaging of 50 mg, 25 mg, and 100 mg whereas the liquid solution is only available in 20 mg per mL pack.

In this article, we will discuss Is sertraline addictive?

The size of the dose taken of Zoloft or sertraline usually depends on the type of mental health disease it is being used to treat but the usual practice taken by the psychiatrist is to start from the minimum possible dose and then increase the dose after every few weeks unless the most efficient dosage is reached which is the most effective in treating the disease.

The dose of sertraline should be taken at least once per day with consistency unless and until it is used for the treatment of the premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD); in such a case the woman taking the dose may only be able to reap its benefits if it is only taken during the one specific week i.e during periods of the menstrual cycle.

As for the doses that are usually prescribed for anxiety-related conditions or depressions usually starts with either a 100 mg or a 50 mg dose and will go up and adjusted accordingly later on. 

Is sertraline addictive?: The Positive Effects of Sertraline

Sertraline like the other SSRIs is most effective while treating mental health diseases like depression and also they have been most effective when treating long term for different kinds of anxiety disorders.

However, sertraline is basically not designed to treat mental health issues alone or any other mood disorders on its own.

This is important that these medications should be taken in combination with regular therapy sessions and also in the supervision of a licensed therapist.

This combination of a therapist session alongside sertraline medication has proven to be the most effective treatment for the long term in the cases of mental health diseases.

Later, we will discuss, Is sertraline addictive?

Is sertraline addictive?: Sertraline’s Side Effects

There are also some potential side effects of the medication as it acts directly on the brain chemistry so there might be some cases where the person taking these medications might experience a number of side effects.

If the dose taken by the individual is appropriate and enough to fulfill the needs of that individual then the side effects are rare but if there are side effects then that means that the dosage is not right and it is too much as compared to the needed dosage of sertraline for that individual.

Some of the side effects of Zoloft or sertraline are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Burning, tingling or numbness in feet and hands
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nervousness
  • Sore throat
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Changes in sex drive

Later, we will discuss, Is sertraline addictive?. Some of the side effects also include weight gain in some people while there are multiple others.

This side effect does not present any danger especially physical danger for individuals who are taking antidepressants but for some individuals this might be an issue as they are more susceptible to the health problems that are related to the weight which might include diabetes and also health-related issues.

It is also advisable to work with a specialist or a doctor if symptoms of health-related issues are present for moderating weight, especially in cases where there is a chance of cholesterol, blood sugar, or high blood pressure to appear.

The side effects of Zoloft or Sertraline that indicates a medical emergency, for instance like an allergy reaction are:

  • Fever
  • Excessive sweating
  • Rapid, irregular heartbeat
  • Abnormal bruising or bleeding
  • Confusion
  • Severe muscle stiffness
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Allergic reactions such as hives, rash, breathing trouble, or swelling.

If there are any signs of the above symptoms it is important to call an emergency helpline or the doctor immediately.

In addition to these symptoms for individuals who are aged 24 years or younger, they are more susceptible in the development of suicidal actions or thoughts while under the medication of sertraline in their severe condition, once this is the case a certified therapist or a doctor should be notified at once of their situation.

Although the antidepressants are basically meant to prevent such low mood and these negative feelings which are related to suicidal ideation but in some young adults and adolescents they might experience a rebound from these social thoughts.

Later, we will discuss, Is sertraline addictive?

Long-Term Use

Sertraline, like any other antidepressant, also has some side effects that remain for a longer time period besides dependence on it.

Apart from these side effects, around 1% of the total patients that have taken in sertraline show signs of mild liver abnormalities, so the medication of sertraline might result in exacerbating pre-existing liver problems or health issues related to it.

Sertraline medication can also result in increasing the risk of health problems if there is an issue already present but generally they have not been suggested as the main cause of any heart conditions.

Now, we will discuss Is sertraline addictive?

Is Sertraline addictive? 

 Here, we will discuss Is Sertraline addictive?

As sertraline is another one of the medications that elevates mood based on the change in brain chemistry, this medication can more than often lead to physical dependence or addiction.

Although in most cases dependence is something that is normally associated with addiction but in general these two things are not the same as addiction mostly involves the ingestion of intoxicating substances compulsively, just to experience the euphoric effect specifically.

Dependence on the other hand occurs when the body has developed a need for the presence of a specific element or substance to reach its normal condition or the state of equilibrium.

Those people who are often struggling with addiction are more prone to developing a physical dependence on a substance but they will also result in increasing their dose over time so that they can experience the euphoria effect.

 Here, we will discuss Is Sertraline addictive?.

As the SSRIs or the sertraline are not quick to act on the brain chemistry so they do not create the sensation of being high so that is why the person using it is less likely to become the target of abuse.

Individuals who usually struggle with the case of substance abuse, including the one with polydrug abuse might attempt to use sertraline for this cause.

However, this trigger of addiction is highly unlikely to trigger those people who do not have any history of personal substance abuse.

Stopping Use of Sertraline

Initially, we have learned whether sertraline is addictive or not, now, we will discuss how to stop using it.

The use of sertraline can lead to the physical dependence of the user on the drug which can in return result in causing some withdrawal symptoms, if the individual stops taking the medication at once or quit it abruptly.

Some of these symptoms are:

  • Dizziness
  • Mood irritability and swings
  • Rebound depression or anxiety 
  • The feeling of shocks electrical ones in the brain or body
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea, vomiting and stomach trouble
  • Shaking or trouble
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Muscle spasms

Is sertraline addictive?: Sertraline Overdose

It is also possible to overdose on the dosage or medication of sertraline.

This usually happens when a person takes too much of the sertraline or tries to mix sertraline with other antidepressants which are more potent than sertraline like MAO inhibitors or tricyclics.

This can result in the cause of a specific condition which is also known as serotonin syndrome, that is the brain has too much serotonin available to use and the neurons are being fired at a rapid pace.

This can result in causing an elevated mood at a dangerous rate in accordance with other different dangerous symptoms.

Some of the symptoms for sertraline overdose might include:

  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Fainting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe dizziness
  • High Fever
  • Muscle twitches or twinges
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme agitation or restlessness
  • Diarrhea

Alternatives to Sertraline

In case sertraline is not much effective in the treatment of depression or any other condition, another SSRI may be taken into account which might work a little better.

SSRI are considered as the best medication present for the treatment of mood disorders when it is appropriately combined together with appropriate therapy.

However, there is a chance that the SSRIs or other antidepressants might not work in each and every case.

In this article, we will discuss Is sertraline addictive?

Unfortunately, there is not much medication available as an alternative to antidepressants.

If anxiety or panic is part of the mental health condition or depression there are some short term treatments like other psychiatric medications for instance benzodiazepines.

However, they are more addictive as they act on the brain in a way similar to that of alcohol and should not be taken for a longer period of time, the maximum time being 2 weeks.

FAQ about Is Sertraline Addictive

Is the sertraline habit forming?

Zoloft or sertraline is not a habit-forming antidepressant but it is recommended to not discontinue the use of this drug abruptly without the consultation of your doctor as there is a chance that withdrawal symptoms might occur.

Can I just stop taking sertraline?

It is not recommended to stop taking sertraline even if there are symptoms of you getting better.

Stopping it at once might result in one or more of the withdrawal symptoms which are not good for your health.

How long can you stay on sertraline?

Clinical trials show that it is safe to use sertraline for a long time period with some of the cases continuing the use of sertraline for years.

When used as a treatment for depression the recommended time period is usually up to one year after the symptoms for depression have ended.

References (2020): What Is Sertraline (Zoloft)?