What to do if sertraline causes dizziness? (7 proven ways that help)
What to do if sertraline causes dizziness?
The following tips can help if sertraline causes dizziness:
Talk to your doctor
If sertraline is making you dizzy, it’s best to report it to your healthcare provider. Dizziness or lightheadedness is one of the common side effects of sertraline, and people who are new to this antidepressant frequently report it (1,2).
Talking to your doctor can help, as your provider can reduce your dose, especially if you’re new to sertraline or your dose has recently been increased. Dose reduction can help with such side effects and allow your body some time to adjust to the medication.
If the side effects subside, your doctor will increase your dose again to see how your body responds to it. However, not everyone taking sertraline will experience dizziness. Some individuals could be more susceptible to it, as people are different and can respond differently to increased serotonin levels associated with sertraline.
It’s best to keep informing your doctor about your progress and what challenges you’re facing with sertraline. Although it is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants worldwide, sertraline might not be a good option for everyone.
So, if you continue to feel dizzy or experience any other side effects that start affecting the quality of your life, your doctor will consider alternative treatment options. However, make sure you do not make any changes to your treatment plan on your own.
Take an OTC medication
You can use an OTC medication, such as Meclizine (Bonine), and dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), to alleviate dizziness in such cases (3,4). These medications do not necessarily interact with sertraline or interfere with how your body processes the antidepressant.
However, some people might feel sleepy while taking these together. So, it’s best to reach out to your doctor or pharmacist to determine whether you can take an OTC or prescription medication to manage dizziness if it bothers you a lot.
If you’re feeling too dizzy, just lie down on your back. This is important because standing can make the flow of blood towards your brain more challenging, and you might fall or hurt yourself if your head is spinning. So it’s best to leave anything you’re doing and lie down or at least sit-down.
Elevate your legs
Elevating your legs is another way of helping your dizziness. Just lie down and raise your legs. You can also do it against the wall for support if you find it difficult to hold your legs that way.
This increases the flow of blood towards your brain. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients, which can play a huge role in managing your dizziness.
Drink plenty of fluids
It is also important to make sure you’re not dehydrated. Drink plenty of water or fluids to help increase your blood volume. This is crucial if your blood pressure is low, as the majority of your blood contains plasma, which is made with 90-92% water.
Drinking plenty of water can increase your blood volume and control your blood pressure, which can help with dizziness, as more blood will flow towards your brain.
Some fluids with dizziness-alleviating properties include:
|Dehydration can contribute to dizziness, so drinking water helps maintain fluid balance and support bodily functions.
|Electrolyte drinks contain minerals like sodium and potassium, aiding hydration and balance.
|Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and may help alleviate nausea and dizziness.
|Peppermint tea may help relieve dizziness.
|Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes, making it a hydrating option. The electrolytes help maintain fluid balance and may assist in alleviating dizziness.
Don’t stand up too quickly
If sertraline is making you dizzy, make sure you do not stand up too quickly. Sudden head movement or standing up too quickly can give you a head rush and make your dizziness worse. It can also increase the risk of falls and injury.
So if you’re lying down and want to stand up, just sit down and give your body a minute before you stand up. After standing up, give your body a few seconds to stabilise before you start walking. This technique can help prevent sudden movement, and blood flow towards your brain is not suddenly reduced (orthostatic hypotension).
Do not engage in activities that require your full mental alertness
It is also important to ensure that you do not engage in any activity that requires your full mental alertness if you’re feeling dizzy while taking sertraline. Activities, such as driving or operating heavy machinery, could be dangerous for someone whose head is spinning, so one should avoid it.
It is crucial for your safety as well as the safety of others around you. So, it’s best to take a day off work if your head is spinning and lie down to get some rest.
What is the incidence of dizziness with sertraline?
Sertraline-induced dizziness or lightheadedness is quite common and is listed as a common side effect (5). However, most of these side effects do get better with time as your body adjusts to the medication.
Dizziness is also a common symptom of antidepressant withdrawal, and most people discontinuing antidepressants experience dizziness (6). However, some research studies have indicated that sertraline might actually help with dizziness.
Some cases of improved dizziness were associated with psychiatric illnesses (7). However, research shows that sertraline can also help with dizziness unrelated to psychiatric illnesses. So, the incidence of sertraline-induced dizziness, although a common side effect, can vary from person to person.
Managing lightheadedness with sertraline
In my experience as a pharmacist, I have come across many people who experienced dizziness during the early course of their treatment with sertraline. However, this does get better with time as your body adjusts to the medication.
Some people may take 3-4 weeks to adjust, but eventually, they do respond well to this medication. It is also worth noting that people respond differently to sertraline, so you should keep a close eye on your side effects and discuss any concerns with your provider.
- Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547689
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use. Available from: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2016/019839s74s86s87_20990s35s44s45lbl.pdf
- Houston BT, Chowdhury YS. Meclizine. 2023 Apr 25. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 32809480. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560645
- LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; 2012–. Dimenhydrinate. 2017 Jan 16. PMID: 31643540. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31643540/
- Ramos RT. Antidepressants and dizziness. J Psychopharmacol. 2006 Sep;20(5):708-13. doi: 10.1177/0269881106060660. Epub 2006 Jan 9. PMID: 16401656. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16401656/
- Smith PF, Darlington CL. A possible explanation for dizziness following SSRI discontinuation. Acta Otolaryngol. 2010 Sep;130(9):981-3. doi: 10.3109/00016481003602082. PMID: 20144124. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20144124/
- Staab JP, Ruckenstein MJ, Solomon D, Shepard NT. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors for dizziness with psychiatric symptoms. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2002 May;128(5):554-60. doi: 10.1001/archotol.128.5.554. PMID: 12003587. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12003587/