Zoloft Effects, Addiction, and Treatment

Zoloft is an anti-depressant medication. Its generic name is sertraline. While Zoloft is generally considered safe, there are risks to taking this medication. People who take Zoloft can experience a wide range of side effects. Some side effects are more moderate while others are more serious, even dangerous.
Evidence Based
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What is Zoloft?

Zoloft, also known in its generic form as sertraline, is an antidepressant medication. It is primarily used to treat depression. However, it is also prescribed for a number of psychological ailments including:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Zoloft belongs to a class of drugs called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. In general, SSRIs work by inhibiting the reuptake of the brain chemical called serotonin. More specifically, SSRIs block serotonin transporters. By blocking transporters, SSRIs stop the reabsorption of serotonin back into brain cells. This, in turn, increases the overall levels of serotonin available to interact within the brain.

Many people find Zoloft to be therapeutic. Studies have shown that Zoloft can alleviate unwanted psychiatric symptoms just as well as other forms of therapy or treatment. But Zoloft has many side effects. Further, there is also a dark side to this drug. Zoloft is addictive.

Graphic of person being sick or having side effects.

Side Effects of Zoloft

People who take Zoloft report a wide range of side effects. Some side effects are more moderate while others are more serious, even dangerous. The most common side effects of taking Zoloft include:

  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Violent behavior
  • Mania (racing thoughts, increased energy, unusual risk-taking behavior, etc.)
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Risks of Zoloft

There are some risks to taking Zoloft. Symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea should not be taken lightly, as they put individuals at risk for dehydration, a drop in blood pressure, and even heart failure. Changes in behavior such as engaging in manic behaviors and experiencing suicidal thoughts are also serious.

Antidepressants (such as Zoloft) should not be given to soldiers when they return to war because of the increase in violence and suicidal behaviors. These extreme symptoms are even more likely to present when the individual is a teen/younger adult.

What’s also serious is that sometimes these symptoms and behaviors actually start when someone stops taking Zoloft, which suggests a physical dependence.

Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants can be addictive in many individuals. This addictiveness affects about half of those treated with SSRIs.

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Zoloft Addiction Symptoms

Symptoms of Zoloft addiction are similar to the general side effects of taking Zoloft. These symptoms can be behavioral or physical. Behavioral changes in a Zoloft-addicted individual might include:

  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Mania

These symptoms can also present themselves in a more physical manner and include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea

These symptoms, behavioral and physical, can occur both when someone starts taking Zoloft and when someone stops taking Zoloft (even if they are attempting to wean off of the drug). It is for these reasons that seeking treatment is important and potentially life-saving.

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Zoloft Addiction Treatment

If you suffer from Zoloft addiction do not be afraid to seek help. Professional treatment centers are available across the country where inpatient rehabilitation and medical detox can save lives. The first part of the rehabilitation process is detoxification (or detox). This is when an individual clears the Zoloft from their body.

During detox is when symptoms and side effects of Zoloft withdrawal are at their worst. Individuals should be particularly cautious of excessive vomiting or diarrhea, as dehydration and subsequent blood pressure drops can lead to heart failure or cardiac arrest. Therefore, it is important to detox under the supervision of a medical professional.

The rehabilitation process may also include outpatient rehab and aftercare programs. These are like stepping stones down the path to sobriety. Start your journey by contacting your family physician or even the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hotline today.


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Resources

Breggin, Peter R. "Antidepressant-induced suicide, violence, and mania: Risks for military personnel." Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry. 2010,

http://truemedmd.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Antidepressant-induced-suicide-Risks-for-military-personnel-Peter-Breggin-2010.pdf

Gøtzsche, Peter C. "Antidepressants are addictive and increase the risk of relapse." Bmj. 2016, https://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i574.full

“National Helpline.” SAMHSA, 6 Nov. 2019, https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline

Rosenberg, Paul B., et al. "Sertraline for the treatment of depression in Alzheimer disease." The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2010, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2842121/

“Sertraline: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a697048.html

Watts, Bradley V., et al. "Meta-analysis of the efficacy of treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder." J Clin Psychiatry. 2013. https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/articles/article-pdf/id41029.pdf

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Updated on: June 29, 2020
Author
Addiction Group Staff
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