Zoloft for Anxiety (A brief guide)

In this blog, we will discuss Zoloft for anxiety treatment, side effects, interaction with other drugs and some recommendations.

Zoloft for Anxiety Treatment

Zoloft is widely used as a treatment for depression, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive behavior, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

According to WebMD “This medication may improve your mood, sleep, appetite, and energy level and may help restore your interest in daily living. It may decrease fear, anxiety, unwanted thoughts, and the number of panic attacks. It may also reduce the urge to perform repeated tasks (compulsions such as hand-washing, counting, and checking) that interfere with daily living”.

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft is the brand name for the chemical component sertraline.

Zoloft is classed as antidepressants that belong to the family of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) usually prescribed to treat depression.

Zoloft works by helping to restore the balance of neurotransmitter serotonin which results in changes in your mood, feeling less anxious, sleep better, improves your concentration, among other benefits.

Zoloft for Anxiety (A brief guide)

Is Zoloft for anxiety treatment only?

zoloft (Zoloft) is a drug used mainly for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

In addition, Zoloft is also used to treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social anxiety Disorder and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). 

However, researchers from University College London found in a recent study (2019)  that Zoloft for anxiety treatment was more effective reducing anxiety symptoms in 6 weeks than the modest improvements in depressive symptoms after 12 weeks. 

zoloft is available in the following strengths:

  • 50 mg film-coated tablets
  • 100 mg film-coated tablets

Off-label prescription

Zoloft can also be prescribed off-label for borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, Trichotillomania, Transverse Myelitis, Somatoform Pain Disorder, Persistent Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Dysautonomia, Dissociative Identity Disorder and Vulvodynia (drugs.com). 

Recommendations before/after taking Zoloft for anxiety

Avoid taking Zoloft for anxiety:

  • If you are allergic or suspect you could be. 
  • If you are currently taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as selegiline or moclobemide or similar drugs like linezolid. You should start the treatment with a MAOI after at least one week of stopping Zoloft and after MAOI treatment you must wait at least 2 weeks to start taking Zoloft. 
  • If you are taking pimozide.

Hot to take Zoloft for anxiety and other mental disorders

Always follow the direct instructions from your doctor on how to take Zoloft.

Here we mention the recommended doses according to the Pfizer medication guide:

  • In adults with Depression and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: the recommended dose for both disorders is 50 mg a day and the daily dose may be increased in 50 mg increments (intervals of at least 1 week over a period of weeks). The maximum recommended dose is 200 mg a day/ 
  • In adults with panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic disorder: the treatment should start at 25 mg a day and increased to 50 mg a day after the first week. The daily dose then may be increased in 50 mg increments over a period of weeks. The maximum recommended dose is 200 mg a day.
  • In children and adolescents: it can only be administered to children and adolescents aged 6-17 years old. 
  • The recommended dose for children aged 6-12 is 25 mg a day. After one week the doctor may increase it to 50 mg a day. The maximum is 200 mg a day. 
  • The recommended dose for adolescents aged 13-17 is 50 mg a day. The maximum is 200 mg a day.

Dose recommendations

These are some of the prescribed doses and instructions, should not be taken as a reference on how to take your medicine.

Remember that your doctor should prescribe the dose after assessing your case and depending on your needs.

Additionally, take into consideration that everyone can react differently to the medication meaning, not all the usual doses will apply to every case. 

Zoloft for Anxiety (A brief guide)

What if I miss a dose?

Don’t panic, just take the next dose at scheduled. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you forgot. 

Side effects 

According to the most common side effects according to rxlist.com include:

  • sleepiness
  • drowsiness
  • tired feeling
  • nervousness
  • sleep problems (insomnia)
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • skin rash
  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • upset stomach
  • stomach pain
  • dry mouth
  • changes in appetite
  • abnormal sexual release
  • impotence
  • decreased sex drive
  • difficulty having a sexual release
  • dry mouth, and
  • weight loss.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects for Zoloft intake (rxlist.com) include:

  • very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, feeling like you might pass out;
  • agitation, hallucinations, fever, overactive reflexes, tremors;
  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, feeling unsteady, loss of coordination;
  • trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, fainting, seizure, shallow breathing, or breathing that stops.
Zoloft for Anxiety (A brief guide)

Zoloft interaction with other substances 

zoloft may interact with:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Other medicines that can make you sleepy: cold or allergy medicine, sedatives, narcotics, sleeping pills, muscle relaxants and medicines for seizures or anxiety. 
  • Anticoagulant/blood thinners such as warfarin or aspirin.
  • Anticonvulsants such as phenytoin, phenobarbital or primidone.
  • Antipsychotics such as butyrophenones, phenothiazines, or thioxanthenes, and atypical antipsychotics such as olanzapine, quetiapine or ziprasidone.
  • Benzodiazepines such as diazepam or lorazepam.
  • First-generation antihistamines such as doxylamine or promethazine.
  • Metoclopramide or opioids, cush as codeine or morphine.
  • Bupropion.
  • Diuretics such as furosemide.
  • Lithium.
  • Medications that may affect your heartbeat by prolonging the QT interval such as amiodarone, encainide, flecainide or pimozide.
  • Other antidepressants such as tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline) and SSRIs such as paroxetine or sertraline.
  • Other medications that affect serotonin such as amphetamines, fentanyl, lithium, tramadol or triptans. 
  • Medications that are metabolized by the same enzyme such as cimetidine, most antipsychotics, flecainide, propafenone or vinblastine.
  • HIV medication such as fosamprenavir, ritonavir or procyclidine. 

Remember this is not a complete list of the medications that can interact with Zoloft this is only a reference according to drugs.com.

For additional medications that may interact refers to your prescribing information for a complete list. 

Can I take Zoloft for anxiety during/after pregnancy?

It is recommended to avoid taking Zoloft for anxiety during the first trimester of pregnancy since it is believed it may lead to adverse effects in the newborn.

However, you shouldn’t stop taking the medication suddenly, consult with your physician so he/she can advise you on how to proceed.

What happens if I stop taking Zoloft?

Do not stop taking the medication unless you are instructed by your physician.

It is necessary to reduce gradually your dose of Zoloft over a period of several weeks before you can stop the medication.

If you stop taking it suddenly, you may experience side effects such as:

  • Dizziness
  • Numbness
  • Sleeping problems
  • Agitation or anxiety
  • Headaches 
  • Feeling sick
  • Shaking

It is recommended to speak to your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms while stopping the medication. 

Zoloft overdose

If you or someone you know take more Zoloft than the original amount prescribed, you should contact your doctor immediately or contact emergency services. Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • Drowsiness 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shaking 
  • Agitation 
  • Dizziness
  • Unconsciousness (rare occasions)

Zoloft and alcohol

Alcohol intake should be avoided or limited while being treated with Zoloft since it can make you feel sleepy.  

When will I see results taking Zoloft for anxiety?

You can start noticing improvement after a week or two, however it can take between 4-6 weeks before you experience the full benefits (NHS).

Antidepressants: Suicidal Risk

Some studies have shown that taking antidepressants is associated with a higher risk of suicidal behavior (suicidal thinking or attempts) when compared to placebo drugs.

This risk has been associated with age in the case in children, adolescents, and adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) or related psychiatric disorders. 

A study conducted by the Centre for Suicide Research in Oxford, England attempted to identify which antidepressant drugs were more closely related to suicides or suicide attempts using coroners reports and hospital admissions from six hospitals across the United Kingdom and Wales (between 2000 and 2006). 

They found that Tricyclic antidepressants or TCAs had the highest toxicity and rate of fatality compared to other classes of antidepressants.

Additionally from the SSRIs group, Citalopram indicated to be the one with the highest toxicity and fatality rates. 

Recommendations 

People under antidepressant medication should always be monitored and observed closely to help reduce or prevent suicidal behavior. 

The NHS suggests it is the responsibility of your health care provider to 

Why is this blog about Zoloft for anxiety important?

If you are considering taking Zoloft for anxiety or for any of the related uses, it is important to be aware of any side effects and warning signs of a major medical complication that can be manifested. 

Additionally, it is important to follow the instructions provided by your doctor on how to take the medication correctly and inform immediately if there are complications.

Although we consider this guide compiled accurate and up to date information from trustworthy medical sources, it is not intended as a strict how-to guide, it is only informative.

Additional questions or concerns should be answered by your doctor.

Please feel free to comment on the content of this guide in the comments section below.

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Zoloft for anxiety

How long does it take for Zoloft to work for anxiety?

Zoloft will start taking effect within 4.5 to 8 hours after intake.

You may start seeing improvements of Zoloft for anxiety after a week or two, but it can take between 4 to 6 weeks before you can experience the full benefits.

How much Zoloft should I take for anxiety?

Zoloft for anxiety recommended dosage is 25 mg with an increase to 50 mg after the first week.

Weekly increases can go up to 200 mg when not responding to lower doses.

However, your doctor will prescribe the appropriate dosage for you. 

What are the most common side effects of Zoloft

The common side effects of Zoloft are sleepiness, drowsiness, feeling tired, nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, headaches, diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach, dry mouth, changes in your appetite, decreased libido, impotence. 

What is the best time of day to take Zoloft?

You can choose to take Zoloft at any time of the day, however, it is important to take it at the same time every day. 

Does Zoloft affect memory?

Zoloft may affect your memory as a side effect of the medication.

If you start experiencing memory loss call your doctor so he/she can advise.

Recommended Reading

  1. Coming of Age on Zoloft: How Antidepressants Cheered Us Up, Let Us Down, and Changed Who We Are
  2. Sertraline: What No One Will Tell You About
  3. The Zoloft Treatment – A Guide to the Antidepressant Sertraline
  4. Coming off Antidepressants: Successful Use and Safe Withdrawal
  5. Analysis of Sertraline Hydrochloride

What we recommend for curbing Anxiety

Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety

Anxiety Weighted Blankets

  • Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.

Online Therapy

  • Online therapy is another thing we should all try. We highly recommend Online therapy with a provider who not only provides therapy but a complete mental health toolbox to help your wellness.

Anxiety Course

  • With over 50,000 participants, this anxiety course may be just what you need to regain control of your life.

Light Therapy

  • Amber light therapy from Amber lights could increase the melatonin production in your body and help you sleep better at night.  An Amber light lamp helps reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increases overall sleep quality.

References

Drugs.com

mind.org

NHS

WebMD

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