Sertraline Side Effects

Sertraline Side Effects

Here Are Some Sertraline Side Effects

Sertraline is a medication prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and other mental health conditions. This medicine helps regulate the balance of serotonin in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that affects mood, appetite, sleep, and motivation. While sertraline can alleviate symptoms of mental illness, it also poses a risk of side effects that may affect the patient’s quality of life. In this article, we’ll delve into the possible sertraline side effects and discuss how they can be managed.

Common Sertraline Side Effects

The most common sertraline side effects are experienced by 1 in 10 patients or more. These may include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Dry Mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Weight Changes
  • Sexual Dysfunction

Nausea is one of the most frequent side effects of sertraline and often occurs within the first few days or weeks of treatment. It’s usually mild and goes away on its own. Eating small, frequent meals, staying hydrated, and taking medication after a meal may help reduce nausea symptoms.

Gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation may also develop in patients taking sertraline. These effects are generally moderate and often improve with time. Drinking plenty of water and eating a fiber-rich diet can help alleviate constipation while taking loperamide or probiotics can help counteract diarrhea.

Headaches and dizziness are also common side effects of sertraline. These symptoms usually improve with time and can be managed by staying hydrated and reducing caffeine and alcohol intake. Some individuals may need to reduce the dose of sertraline to alleviate these side effects.

Sweating, dry mouth, and insomnia are also reported side effects of sertraline. These symptoms are usually mild and resolve within a few weeks of starting treatment. Drinking plenty of water and using moisturizing products can help alleviate sweating and dry mouth. Patients experiencing insomnia may benefit from practicing good sleep hygiene and discussing the problem with their doctor.

Fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight changes are also some of the side effects of sertraline. These symptoms are usually mild and resolve within a few weeks with continued treatment. However, if these symptoms persist or cause discomfort, patients should discuss them with their doctor.

Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction is a common side effect of sertraline and may affect both men and women. This can include decreased libido, difficulty achieving orgasm, and erectile dysfunction in men. These symptoms may improve with time or after the dose is adjusted but may persist in some patients.

If sexual dysfunction persists, patients may talk to their doctor about alternative medications, such as bupropion or mirtazapine, which have a lower risk of these side effects. In some cases, the addition of sildenafil or tadalafil may be recommended to treat erectile dysfunction.

Less Common Sertraline Side Effects

While the above-mentioned side effects are relatively common, some less frequent sertraline side effects may occur. These include:

  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Mania or hypomania
  • Serotonin syndrome

Suicidal thoughts or behaviors are rare side effects of sertraline; however, they pose a significant risk to patients taking this medication. Patients who develop suicidal thoughts or behavior should immediately seek medical attention or call a suicide hotline.

Agitation, irritability, and panic attacks are also uncommon side effects of sertraline. These symptoms may indicate that the dose needs to be adjusted or that the medication should be discontinued. If these symptoms persist or worsen, patients should discuss them with their doctor.

Mania or hypomania, an elevated or irritable mood, may also develop in patients taking sertraline. This may be more common in patients with bipolar disorder or a family history of the condition. Patients experiencing these symptoms should talk with their doctor about adjusting the treatment plan or discontinuing the medication.

Serotonin syndrome is a rare but potentially life-threatening side effect of sertraline. This occurs when there is an excess of serotonin in the brain and can cause symptoms such as confusion, fever, muscle rigidity, and seizures. Patients who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical attention.


Sertraline is a useful medication for treating various mental health disorders, but it can have side effects that may affect the patient’s quality of life. Patients taking sertraline should be aware of the possible side effects and discuss them with their doctor. Most of these side effects are manageable and resolved with continued treatment. However, some may indicate the need for adjusting the medication or changing its dosage. Patients who experience severe symptoms or suicidal thoughts should seek medical help immediately. By being vigilant and working closely with their doctor, patients can safely and effectively use sertraline to manage their mental health conditions.

Sertraline Side Effects FAQ

Here are the most common questions about sertraline side effects.

Are there any serious side effects of sertraline?

Sertraline can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior, especially in children, adolescents, and young adults. Other serious side effects include serotonin syndrome, which can cause confusion, agitation, fever, muscle rigidity, seizures, and bleeding disorders.

What should I do if I experience any side effects while taking sertraline?

If you experience any side effects while taking sertraline, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. Depending on the severity of the side effects, your healthcare provider may adjust your dosage or switch you to a different medication.

Can sertraline be safely stopped if the side effects are too severe?

Sertraline should not be abruptly stopped without consulting your healthcare provider. They may advise you to gradually taper off the medication to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Can sertraline interact with other medications or supplements?

Sertraline can interact with certain medications and supplements, including MAO inhibitors, blood thinners, pain medications, and herbal supplements such as St. John’s wort. Always inform your healthcare provider of all medications and supplements you are taking before starting sertraline.

Who should not take sertraline?

Sertraline should not be taken by individuals who are allergic to it or any of its components. It should also be avoided by individuals who are taking MAO inhibitors or who have recently stopped taking them, as well as individuals who have a history of seizures or bleeding disorders. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid sertraline, or only take it under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

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