What is Zoloft?

If you have been recently diagnosed with depression and are given Zoloft, you may want to know how the medication works, what common side effects are, and any risks associated with taking it. Read on to find out these details. 

Share This Post

According to a statement made by the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the most common disability in the world. Also, it is estimated by the WHO that up to 75 percent of people with depression remain undiagnosed.

There can be challenges in recognizing the symptoms of depression because it affects people in different ways.

There are many types of depression, and the two most common types are major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder.

Major depression is characterized by depressive symptoms that last every day for two weeks, while persistent depression is defined as having symptoms of depression that last for at least two years.

Depression must be treated professionally to help the person overcome their symptoms and live normally. 

How to recognize if you are being affected by depression? There are certain common symptoms associated with being depressed. Feeling sad is the most well known symptom of depression, but it is only one of many symptoms.

Depression can include any of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling sad, down or empty
  • Pessimistic outlook or feeling hopeless
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Loss of interest in activities that used evoke excitement
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Trouble concentrating and making decisions
  • Disruption of sleep patterns such as difficulty in falling asleep, not being able to stay asleep or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Feeling irritable
  • Chronic pain without an apparent physical cause that is not helped by treatment

Depression can be caused by many factors such as a family history of the problem, a traumatic event, significant life changes, certain medications, and medical issues like chronic pain or long-term diseases.

Whatever the cause of depression, getting treatment is important and usually involves a combination of medication and therapy

If you have been recently diagnosed with depression and are given Zoloft, you may want to know how the medication works, what common side effects are, and any risks associated with taking it. Read on to find out these details. 

What is Zoloft? 

Often confused with the drug Prozac, Pfizer initially developed the brand name medication, and it was FDA-approved in 1991. 

Zoloft is characterized as being one of the most popular prescription drugs used to treat depression.

How does Zoloft work? 

Zoloft belongs to the class of drugs named the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that are widely utilized to treat anxiety and depression.

One of the significant biological causes of depression is thought to be due to decreased levels of serotonin in the brain.

SSRI medication works by reducing the amount of serotonin reabsorbed into neurons, allowing their accumulation within the brain.

This increases serotonin-mediated neurotransmission, which reduces symptoms of depression and obsessive behavior while elevating feelings of happiness.

Additionally, Zoloft is one of the few SSRIs that can exert an effect on dopamine as well.

The medication prevents the reuptake of dopamine into neurons, thereby increasing dopamine concentration in the brain, decreasing symptoms of depression. 

YouTube player
What is Zoloft?

What is Zoloft used for?  

While Zoloft is most well known for its use in treating depression, other indications are used for it.  The SSRI antidepressant assists in treating the following conditions:

Major Depressive Disorder 

The leading cause of disability within the country is major depressive disorder being the most commonly discovered in individuals between the ages of 15 and 44.

The condition is characterized by feelings of intense sadness or a low mood for two continuous weeks.

Adults aged 18 years or older usually begin with a typical Zoloft dosage of  50 mg a day. The maximum dose that can be taken to treat this condition is 200 mg. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD affects 2.2 million Americans. One-third of all adults who have OCD develop the condition in childhood. People with OCD cultivate obsessions that can cause anxiety and distress.

Compulsions are actions that are carried out by a person with OCD with the intention of easing mental distress or anxiety. Zoloft is a medication approved for the treatment of OCD in both adults and children above the age of six.

The recommended dose of Zoloft for adults treating OCD starts at 50 mg. Children with OCD can take 25 mg of Zoloft once a day. Notably, OCD is the only condition for which Zoloft is approved for use in children. 

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is a mental illness involving sudden panic attacks that happen unexpectedly, along with a fear of recurring attacks.

The condition affects approximately 6 million people in the country and usually starts after the age of 20. Zoloft can treat panic disorder in adults with the initial dose beginning at 25 mg.

The dose is gradually adjusted according to how the individual responds. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD occurs in people who have undergone a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, personal assault like rape, serious accident, death of a loved one and war.

The condition can cause the affected individual to develop depression or anxiety that lasts for months to years. Approximately 3.5 percent of the population in the country is estimated to suffer from PTSD.

Zoloft is effective in treating PTSD in adults starting at 25 mg a day. The dose is usually increased to 50 mg a day. 

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

This condition is a severe type of PMS that causes extreme mood swings and affects physical behavior.

When a person experiences premenstrual dysphoric syndrome, they may feel hopeless, irritable and depressed while also being unable to work.

Symptoms usually resolve once menstruation begins. Zoloft is used at 50 mg a day throughout the menstrual cycle for the treatment of this condition. 

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety can be described as a fear of being put in social situations. People with social anxiety are usually scared of being judged, rejected or negatively perceived.

The typical dosage of Zoloft for treating social anxiety disorder starts at 25 mg a day and is generally increased to 50 mg after one week. 

How to take Zoloft

If you suffer from any of the above conditions, take Zoloft exactly as prescribed by your doctor. The medication can be taken with or without food once a day.

Importantly, Zoloft is indicated for long-term use and should not be stopped suddenly without consulting your doctor.

If you stop taking the drug abruptly, you could develop severe withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, headache, sweating, trouble sleeping and feelings of electric shock.

You may not feel the effect of taking Zoloft immediately, and it can take up to four weeks once you start taking it to feel better. 

Side effects of Zoloft

Like all prescription drugs, Zoloft has side effects that may occur while taking the medication.

Compared to other drugs within the same class, Zoloft is associated with slightly more side effects. The most common side effects are:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Decreased sex drive or sexual dysfunction

Additionally, the following more serious side effects can also occur. 

  • The FDA has issued a black box warning for Zoloft that the drug may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in children, teenagers and young adults.  
  • Serotonin syndrome may occur if serotonin levels become too high. This condition is a life-threatening condition that can cause hallucinations, coma, seizures, fast heart rate, dizziness, and blood pressure changes. 
  • A severe allergic reaction can occur when taking Zoloft for the first time.
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Manic episodes
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Low sodium levels
  • Vision changes

Zoloft is also a pregnancy category C drug, meaning it is not judged safe to be taken while pregnant

Drug interactions of Zoloft

Zoloft should not be taken in combination with the following drugs or an adverse reaction could occur:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome and should not be used for 14 days before or after taking Zoloft. 
  • Linezolid 
  • Intravenous methylene blue can also increase the risk of serotonin syndrome if used while on Zoloft.
  • Pimozide, in combination with Zoloft, can cause serious heart problems. 

Other drugs that can increase the severity of side effects include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen
  • Triptans
  • Lithium
  • Cimetidine
  • Tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline
  • Serotonergic medications like tramadol or St. John’s wort

How much does Zoloft cost?

The average price of brand name Zoloft is expensive. Still, since generic sertraline is readily available, this provides a more affordable option to purchase the drug for a cash price of approximately $40 for 30 tablets of 100 mg.

Most health insurance plans including 100 percent of Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans cover the cost of Zoloft.

This is convenient for people who have prescription drug coverage. For those who do not, there are still ways to save on Zoloft or its generics by using a prescription drug discount card, such as the free card available from Pharmacists.org.

You can save up to an average of 46 percent off the retail price of either Zoloft or sertraline with the card. Simply sign up for the discount card online and present it at more than 90 percent of pharmacies across the nation, such as Walgreens, Rite Aid or CVS, to save on Zoloft. 

Treatment Options for Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mental Health Ailment

PlanProductFeaturesTreatment Today
70% off your 1st Month
Psychiatry evaluation + medication | Hims

Psychiatry evaluation + medication | Hims

  • No searching for a psychiatrist
  • No waiting rooms
  • Licensed psychiatry providers
  • Evidence-backed medicine
  • Personalized treatment plan
  • Includes Medication cost

$85/month - Includes everything

Start Treatment Today
70% off your 1st Month
Psychiatry evaluation + medication | Hers

Psychiatry evaluation + medication | Hers

  • No searching for a psychiatrist
  • No waiting rooms
  • Licensed psychiatry providers
  • Evidence-backed medicine
  • Personalized treatment plan
  • Includes Medication cost

$85/month - Includes everything

Start Treatment TodayRead Review
$349/month - Most Effective Treatment Plan
Medication + Therapy | Brightside Health

Medication + Therapy | Brightside Health

  • FDA-approved medication
  • Evidence-based therapy
  • Always see and expert
  • All therapist hold a master's degree or higher
  • 85% of members feel better within 12 weeks
  • HSA/FSA eligible

$349/month - Coupon available. 

Start Treatment TodayRead Review
$33/Week for 1st Month - Proven most effective
Medication + Therapy | Cerebral

Medication + Therapy | Cerebral

  • Evaluation, diagnosis, and prescription by a medical provider
  • Weekly video/phone sessions with a licensed therapist
  • Monthly medication delivery (if prescribed)
  • Chat securely with your therapist anytime
  • Regular progress tracking by provider & therapist
  • FSA / HSA eligible

Starting at $33/Week for 1st Month

Start Treatment TodayRead Review
If you buy something from a link on our site, we may earn a commission. See our advertising disclosure.

References, Studies and Sources:


Sesame Care

Find the best price for great doctors and specialists

  • Thousands of doctors and specialists
  • $13,000,000+ saved by patients
  • 95% patient satisfaction
  • 4.3 on TrustPilot

Popular Destinations



Telehealth Reviews


Pharmacist Membership

About Us

Pharmacy Near Me

Recent Articles


Minoxidil is a vasodilator that relaxes (widens) blood vessels and improves blood flow.

Minoxidil is used to treat severely high blood pressure (hypertension) that is causing symptoms or damaging your vital organs. Minoxidil is usually given together with two other medicines to help prevent serious side effects.

Minoxidil tablets should not be used to promote scalp hair growth. Only the topical form of minoxidil (Rogaine) is recommended for that use.

Read More »

Perceptions of Marijuana and Psychedelics

Let’s take a closer look at how many Americans report using different drugs (including marijuana, LSD, ketamine, and PCP); which drugs they support either recreational and/or therapeutic use of; how important medical research is to their opinions; and how many believe marijuana is a better treatment option than other medications.

Read More »

Share On:

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore

Cerebral Review: Online Depression & Anxiety Treatment

Today, we’re deep diving with a Cerebral review to give you some insider info to help you narrow down your choices.

What are the signs of Depression?

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of depression as well as some treatment options for this condition.

Can You Use Gabapentin For Anxiety?

While Neurontin is the most common brand name for gabapentin, other forms (such as Horizant and Gralise) may be prescribed depending on the specific

Zoloft and Weight Loss: Everything You Need To Know

When it comes to Zoloft and weight loss, here’s everything you need to know.

What is Venlafaxine HCL ER?

Common mental illnesses like major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder affect millions of Americans every year. While many different treatment options

Using Prozac With Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Prozac has become perhaps the most well-known antidepressant in the United States since its approval for the treatment of depression in 1986. Since then,

How Long Does Clonazepam Stay in Your System?

Clonazepam is a popular medication that is most commonly associated with treatment for panic disorder, but the medication was originally developed as a treatment

What is Sertraline and What are the Side Effects?

Sertraline is the generic form of Zoloft, a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs like

Turn On, Tune In, and…. Heal Your Brain? Psychedelics Return as Potential Therapy for Mental Health Disorders

Before they fell out of favor over half a century ago, psychedelic drugs, like psilocybin and LSD, were studied for various psychiatric diseases such

How Long Does Alprazolam Stay in Your System?

Alprazolam is a fast-acting medication, but exactly how long alprazolam stays in your body varies tremendously based on the form of the medication taken,

Paxil vs Zoloft: Differences, Similarities and Which is Better

Paxil and Zoloft are both popular Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved antidepressants that are used to treat a wide range of mental health conditions.

A Supplement for Stress? The Science Behind Adaptogens

Stress is part of all our lives. Adaptogens are a group of herbal supplements studied throughout history as a way to improve the body’s

Does Buspirone Cause Weight Gain?

Many antidepressants can cause weight gain as a side effect. Buspirone may cause an altered appetite as a side effect, which can lead to

Duloxetine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Duloxetine withdrawal is very common and well documented, affecting nearly half of all patients. Common withdrawal symptoms include dizziness, headaches, and nausea, and symptoms

Cymbalta vs. Prozac: Comparison Guide

Cymbalta and Prozac are commonly prescribed medications to treat mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder. The medications are similarly effective, although one

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

Ativan is a commonly prescribed prescription drug that is used by millions of Americans for anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders. It is the brand

Why is Mental Health Important?

As the saying goes, “There is no health without mental health,” but why is mental health so important? The reality is that although we

BuSpar: What is it? Uses, Costs, Benefits, and Doses

If you’re one of 40 million American adults suffering from an anxiety disorder or experiencing symptoms of anxiety, you might think that your battle

What are Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotics? 

Long-acting injectable (LAI) antipsychotics have been shown to prevent psychosis relapse in patients with schizophrenia. To combat poor medication adherence, LAIs are a great

Cymbalta vs. Effexor: Differences and Side Effects

Effexor and Cymbalta are antidepressants used for the treatment of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Although both medications are FDA-approved, Effexor and