Zoloft is an antidepressant from the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It primarily affects the neurotransmitter serotonin by decreasing its absorption back into the cell and nerve receptors, thus increasing the serotonin level present in the brain and giving it more time to activate the receptors. Once the levels of neurotransmitters are brought back to normal and healthy levels, one experiences an improved mood and a decrease in other symptoms of depression. As with other SSRI medications, Zoloft has a relatively low rate of side effects. A particular patient’s dosage of Zoloft depends on the condition it is prescribed to treat and the age and health of the patient.
Zoloft is used for the treatment of major depressive disorder. It has also been used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). It is not advisable to take Zoloft with MAOIs or to take Zoloft in liquid form because it may contain alcohol. Zoloft should not be used with Antabuse nor is advisable to drink while taking Zoloft, as this will act as a CNS depressant. Zoloft is often prescribed to handle impulse control disorders and general anxiety disorders and is sometimes prescribed for headaches. This drug is often used in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers for dual diagnosis treatment for addiction.
Zoloft dosages are dependent upon a patient’s diagnosis, health condition, age and a range of other variables. Zoloft treatment for social anxiety requires several months of sustained therapy. In most cases, behavioral therapy may be indicated to supplement Zoloft as SSRI s are not a cure for anxiety.
Zoloft may cause side effects. These side effects are generally mild and should decrease over time. These include:
- Feeling agitated
- Trouble sleeping
- Anger or irritability
- Loss of appetite
- Uncontrollable body shaking
Notify your doctor if these side effects do not go away or are severe.
Some less common but more serious side effects are:
- Difficulty concentrating or confusion
- Seeing or hearing things that do not exist (hallucinating)
- Excessive sweating
- Severe muscle stiffness or tightness
- Increased depression or suicidal thoughts
- Trouble breathing
- Blurred vision
- Gas or bloating
If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately. Mania or hypomania may be induced by taking Zoloft.
As with all SSRI antidepressants, many people experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping Zoloft use. Consult your doctor before stopping Zoloft, as symptoms are decreased by slowly tapering off this medication. While these withdrawal symptoms are not life threatening, they may be quite uncomfortable. They include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
- Joint pain
- Body aches or “zapping” sensations
- Build up of fluid in legs or lungs (edema)
- Redness of the skin
- Night sweats
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