Side Effects of Zoloft (Sertraline)

Know what to expect and when to act

In This Article

Zoloft (sertraline) is a type of antidepressant medication commonly used to treat depression and anxiety. It belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which work by preventing the reabsorption of serotonin (the "feel good" neurotransmitter) so that more is available in the system.

Zoloft is among the most prescribed psychiatric drugs in the U.S.

side effects of zoloft
Illustration by JR Bee, Verywell

Most Common Side Effects

As with all medications, Zoloft may cause certain unwanted side effects. The most commonly experienced in those taking Zoloft include:

Gastrointestinal problems can occur quite frequently in people taking Zoloft. Others are far less common but may be more distressing.

While the loss of libido and orgasmic difficulties can affect both men and women, men are especially impacted by physical symptoms of erectile dysfunction (occurring in a small percent of men taking Zoloft). People can sometimes minimize these symptoms by taking Zoloft immediately after sex or adjusting treatment with the advice of their doctor.

Uncommon (But Serious) Side Effects

While far less common, there are some serious side effects associated with Zoloft use.

In some cases, Zoloft may trigger or exacerbate psychiatric symptoms. Call your doctor if you experience any new or worsening psychiatric symptoms such as panic attacks, hallucinations, agitation, memory loss, impulsiveness, anxiety, or any symptom associated with psychosis, major depression, or mania.

You should seek immediate medical assistance if you experience any of the following:

  • Black or bloody stools
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • A severe or a persistent headache
  • Fever over 100o F
  • Seizure
  • Skin reactions
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Children and Adolescents

When prescribed in children or adolescents, clinical trials have found that Zoloft can cause a slightly different range of side effects, some of which are less common in adults. Advise your pediatrician if your child experiences any of the following:

  • Nosebleeds
  • Frequent urination
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Heavy menstrual period
  • Abnormal or agitated muscle movements
  • Slowed growth
  • Weight changes

A Word From Verywell

The type and severity of Zoloft side effects will vary from person to person. For most, the symptoms tend to be minimal and generally improve over time.

If you find you are unable to cope with the side effects, call your doctor immediately. There may be strategies your doctor can offer (including dose adjustment or adjunctive therapies) to help you better adjust to the prescribed treatment.

The important thing to avoid is stopping or changing treatment without input from your doctor. Not only might you undermine the goals of treatment, but you may also experience a condition known as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome (ADS) which can manifest with symptoms of withdrawal (including muscle aches, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, and abnormal sensations). ADS can occur as early as six weeks after starting therapy.

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Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Highlight of Prescribing Information: Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use." Silver Springs, Maryland. December 2016.

  2. Herstowska M, Komorowska O, Cubała WJ, Jakuszkowiak-Wojten K, Gałuszko-Węgielnik M, Landowski J. Severe skin complications in patients treated with antidepressants: a literature review. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2014;31(2):92–97. doi:10.5114/pdia.2014.40930

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