What to do if Zoloft makes you angry? (3+ helpful strategies)
The following ways can help with anger management while taking Zoloft (sertraline):
- Talk to your healthcare provider
- Try psychotherapy
- Consider anger-reducing strategies
- Avoid alcohol
Talk to your healthcare provider
If Zoloft is causing you anger, you should reach out to your healthcare provider. Anger is not a common side effect of Zoloft, and there could be different factors involved.
Your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and other side effects you might be experiencing to determine the root cause of your anger outbursts while taking Zoloft. There is one important thing to keep in mind: some individuals may have an underlying psychotic or personality disorder that can be aggravated in response to Zoloft. (1)
This antidepressant is known to unmask psychosis, so these conditions should be ruled out (1). It’s important because Zoloft is contraindicated with some conditions, such as bipolar disorder (2). Furthermore, other factors should also be considered, as some people generally have aggressive personalities.
Some individuals have a history of anger outbursts or take Zoloft concomitantly with another medication that can also increase anger or agitation. Zoloft, although it may not commonly affect people in this way, can cause anger and agitation in some individuals.
This is why seeking professional advice is crucial to understand your triggers or to check whether there is another potential cause of anger unrelated to your antidepressant. Your doctor will adjust your treatment plan if necessary.
Psychotherapy is a helpful approach to managing your anger and your response to triggers in general (3). Your therapist will provide you with targeted sessions to help you respond to triggers in constructive ways and manage the thought patterns that lead to anger outbursts.
You can also learn about healthy coping strategies to deal with stressful situations. Behavioural therapies can restructure your cognitive responses and convert your negative thoughts into positive ones.
This also reduces the intensity of anger attacks. However, this process takes time, and you have to be consistent with your therapy sessions to make the most out of them.
Consider anger-reducing strategies
It is important to consider anger-reducing strategies to help you avoid reacting violently to your triggers. These techniques can help calm you down and make you think about why you shouldn’t negatively react to things. Some of these strategies include: (4,5)
|Inhale slowly, hold briefly and exhale. Repeat several times to calm the nervous system.
|Count to ten
|Take a pause, and count to ten slowly before reacting.
|Take a break
|Step away from the situation for a few minutes to cool down
|Express yourself calmly
|Do not use harsh words
|Engage in exercise or physical activities to release built-up tension and stress.
|Mindfulness and meditation
|Practice mindfulness to stay present and meditation to cultivate a sense of calm and self-awareness.
|Recognize specific situations or patterns that trigger anger and avoid them.
|Develop effective problem-solving skills to address the root causes of frustration or irritation
It is important to avoid the use of alcohol if you’re experiencing Zoloft-induced anger episodes. This is because alcohol can worsen things, affect your treatment goals by aggravating depression symptoms, damage the progress you have made so far, and increase the frequency of anger attacks (6).
Alcohol numbs your brain and affects your ability to react positively to things. It can cause sulking and induce suicidal behaviour. So, it is crucial to cut back on alcohol if you drink frequently with Zoloft and avoid using any other drug that can affect your treatment with the antidepressant.
What is the link between Zoloft and anger?
There is limited research on the potential link between Zoloft and anger. However, Zoloft can cause anger and agitation in some people. This antidepressant primarily affects serotonin levels, which may trigger behavioural side effects in some individuals during the early course of treatment.
This usually happens due to the changes associated with the medication that your body isn’t used to. However, once the antidepressant kicks in, these side effects do start to get better.
It is important to note that Zoloft and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can unmask psychosis or aggravate the symptoms of undiagnosed psychotic disorders, such as bipolar disorder (1).
So, if you’re experiencing the worst kind of anger, and even minor things are triggering it, you should seek immediate medical attention.
What people are more susceptible to Zoloft-induced anger?
Some individuals are more susceptible to Zoloft-induced anger, including:
- Individuals with a history of anger management difficulties
- People with certain pre-existing mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder
- Individuals undergoing significant life stressors, such as major life changes or traumatic events
- People taking higher doses of Zoloft may experience increased irritability or anger.
- Some individuals may be more sensitive to the effects of Zoloft, leading to mood changes, including anger.
- People with a history of substance abuse or alcoholism, or those who are still involved.
- People who are not responding to Zoloft well.
Anger management with antidepressants
In my experience as a pharmacist, I have not come across many cases of Zoloft-induced anger outbursts. In the cases I have experienced, there was always an additional factor involved – for example, an aggressive personality, too much stressful lifestyle, substance abuse, overuse of the antidepressant, or underlying psychosis.
However, Zoloft can affect people differently or generate uncommon responses. So, if you’re dealing with anger issues, you should discuss it 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
- Saini M. A meta-analysis of the psychological treatment of anger: developing guidelines for evidence-based practice. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2009;37(4):473-88. PMID: 20018996. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20018996/
- Blake CS, Hamrin V. Current approaches to the assessment and management of anger and aggression in youth: a review. J Child Adolesc Psychiatr Nurs. 2007 Nov;20(4):209-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6171.2007.00102.x. PMID: 17991051. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17991051/
- Anjanappa S, Govindan R, Munivenkatappa M, Bhaskarapillai B. Effectiveness of anger management program on anger level, problem solving skills, communication skills, and adjustment among school-going adolescents. J Educ Health Promot. 2023 Mar 31;12:90. doi: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_1216_22. PMID: 37288422; PMCID: PMC10243415. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37288422/
- Norström T, Pape H. Alcohol, suppressed anger and violence. Addiction. 2010 Sep;105(9):1580-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.02997.x. Epub 2010 Jun 21. PMID: 20569229. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20569229/