What to do if Zoloft makes your muscles ache? (5+ Tips)

The following tips can help if Zoloft makes your muscles ache:

  • Apply cold compress
  • Take an OTC painkiller
  • Gently massage the area to improve blood flow
  • Stretch your muscles
  • Apply topical analgesics 
  • Check for vitamin or mineral deficiency 

Apply cold compress

Apply a cold compress if Zoloft makes your muscles ache. A cold compress can effectively reduce pain and inflammation. It numbs the area and promotes pain relief. (1)

Some people may also apply a warm compress – which can also help with pain and improve blood flow, promoting muscle healing in case of an injury. Both warm and cold compresses have their benefits. You can try them and see what soothes your muscle ache more effectively and stick to it.

Take an OTC painkiller

Taking an over-the-counter painkiller can also help manage Zoloft-induced muscle aches. However, it’s best to take Tylenol (acetaminophen) and avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil (ibuprofen). (2)

This is because NSAIDs can potentially interact with sertraline – the active ingredient in Zoloft – and can increase the risk of gastrointestinal (GI) side effects. (3)

It can also lead to GI bleeding in some cases, as both Zoloft and NSAIDs can cause blood thinning. So, it’s best to stick to Tylenol, which is a safer painkiller to take while being treated with Zoloft.

Gently massage the area to improve blood flow

Gently massaging the area with oil can help manage Zoloft-induced pain. Massaging improves blood flow, providing your aching muscles with fresh oxygen and nutrients, removes waste products, and promotes muscle healing. (4)

However, make sure you gently massage your muscles and do not apply too much pressure, especially if your pain is severe. Massaging with an over-the-counter medication can help with your pain. The following oils can be used due to their pain-relieving properties:

  • Peppermint oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Chamomile oil
  • Ginger oil
  • Arnica oil
  • Rosemary oil
  • Cayenne pepper oil

Stretch your muscles

Stretching your muscles can also promote muscle healing and relieve pain. Stretching stretches your muscles, improves blood flow, and helps your muscles breathe. (5)

However, you should start with mild exercises if you’re a beginner and should not stretch your muscles excessively, especially if the pain is severe. Some helpful stretching exercises include:

Muscle groupExercise nameHow to do it
Neck and shouldersNeck tilt and shoulder rollSlowly tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear toward your shoulder. Roll your shoulders backwards in circular motions.
Upper and lower backCat-cow stretchOn hands and knees, arch your back upward like a cat, then dip it down, lifting your head and tailbone. Repeat.
Child’s poseKneel, sit back on your heels, and stretch your arms forward on the floor. Hold and breathe deeply.
ChestDoorway chest stretchStand in a doorway, place your hands on the frame, and lean forward, feeling a stretch in your chest muscles.
Arms and wristsWrist flexor stretchExtend your arm, palm facing down. Use your opposite hand to gently pull your fingers back toward your body.
QuadricepsStanding quadriceps stretchStand on one leg, bend your other knee, and bring your foot toward your buttocks. Hold your ankle with your hand.
Calves and hamstrings Calf stretch on wallPlace hands on a wall, one foot forward, one foot back. Keep the back leg straight, heel on the ground.
Seated forward bendSit with your legs extended, hinge at your hips, and reach forward toward your toes. Keep your back straight.

Apply topical analgesics 

You can also apply topical analgesics if you’re not taking one. Topical NSAIDs such as Voltaren Gel (diclofenac) can be applied safely while taking Zoloft at the site of muscle aches. 

Topical preparations are absorbed locally and provide local pain relief. The medication released from such formulations does not enter systemic circulation in high amounts, making it safer to use with Zoloft.

Check for vitamin or mineral deficiency 

It is important to make sure that you are not deficient in vitamins and minerals, as these deficiencies can make you more susceptible to Zoloft-induced muscle aches. Some examples include:

  • Vitamin D: Inadequate levels of vitamin D can lead to muscle pain and weakness. 
  • Vitamin B12: A deficiency in vitamin B12 can cause muscle weakness and pain. B12 is involved in nerve function and the formation of red blood cells, both of which are crucial for muscle health.
  • Magnesium: Insufficient magnesium levels may lead to muscle cramps and spasms. Magnesium is essential for muscle contraction and relaxation.
  • Potassium: Potassium deficiency can also lead to muscle weakness and aches. Potassium is vital for maintaining proper muscle contraction.

It’s best to reach out to your provider and discuss your muscle pain. If you have a deficiency that makes you more sensitive to such side effects, your doctor will guide you accordingly.

What to do if Zoloft-induced muscle pain persists?

If Zoloft-induced muscle ache persists or becomes severe, you should seek medical attention. Muscle aches, stiffness, and twitching are listed as Zoloft-induced side effects and can affect people differently. Generally, these side effects are expected to go away as the body adjusts to the medication. 

However, research studies and case reports show that Zoloft can cause severe muscular side effects, such as rhabdomyolysis, in some individuals. This is why your muscle pain should be discussed with your doctor if it’s severe to ensure that Zoloft is not affecting you severely or damaging your muscles. 

Some doctors may consider dose reduction to see if it makes any difference in your side effects. However, if Zoloft is not the right choice of antidepressant for you, your provider will consider alternative treatment options.

Zoloft and muscular side effects

In my experience as a pharmacist, I have come across many patients who experienced muscle and joint pain while taking sertraline. This is considered a common side effect, and such people usually feel better within a few weeks. Proper diet and overall care can help you with such side effects. 

However, some individuals may not do well on Zoloft. It is important to note that abruptly stopping the medication to stop the side effects might do more harm than good, so make sure you avoid that. The best approach to deal with it is to reach out to your provider and discuss safe and effective ways to mitigate these side effects.


  1. Kesik G, Ozdemir L, Yıldırım T, Jabrayilov J, Çeliksöz G. Effects of warm or cold compresses applied to the legs during hemodialysis on cramps, fatigue, and patient comfort: A placebo-controlled randomized trial. Hemodial Int. 2023 Apr;27(2):117-125. doi: 10.1111/hdi.13070. Epub 2023 Feb 14. PMID: 36788410. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36788410/ 
  1. Amaechi O, Huffman MM, Featherstone K. Pharmacologic Therapy for Acute Pain. Am Fam Physician. 2021 Jul 1;104(1):63-72. PMID: 34264611. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34264611/ 
  1. de Jong JC, van den Berg PB, Tobi H, de Jong-van den Berg LT. Combined use of SSRIs and NSAIDs increases the risk of gastrointestinal adverse effects. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2003 Jun;55(6):591-5. doi: 10.1046/j.0306-5251.2002.01770.x. PMID: 12814454; PMCID: PMC1884264. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1884264/ 
  1. Andersen LL, Jay K, Andersen CH, Jakobsen MD, Sundstrup E, Topp R, Behm DG. Acute effects of massage or active exercise in relieving muscle soreness: randomized controlled trial. J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Dec;27(12):3352-9. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182908610. PMID: 23524365. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23524365/ 
  1. Kim G, Kim H, Kim WK, Kim J. Effect of stretching-based rehabilitation on pain, flexibility and muscle strength in dancers with hamstring injury: a single-blind, prospective, randomized clinical trial. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2018 Sep;58(9):1287-1295. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.17.07554-5. Epub 2017 Oct 24. PMID: 29072027. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29072027/ 

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