Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride)
General information on Zoloft
Zoloft, with active ingredient sertralin hydrochloride, belong to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The drug is used for treating various disorders of the brain such obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Serotonin is one of several important chemicals produced in our brain. It plays a role in transmitting messages to and from the brain. When a message travels down the nerve, the message carrying cell produces serotonin which attaches itself to the receptors on the nearest cell. Thus, the message travels forward. However, in cases of imbalance of serotonin, serious conditions can develop such as depression etc.
The drug works by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin by the cells, thus regulating serotonin and hence, treating various disorders of the brain.
Patients on MAO inhibitors such as phenelzine, selegiline etc. and pimozide should refrain from using this drug. Zoloft is known to react with these medications leading to severe conditions. Other than that, patients with liver disease, epilepsy or history of drug abuse should take this drug only after consultation with a doctor.
Other than the drugs mentioned above, Zoloft is also known to react with certain other medications such as coagulants like warfarin, antidepressant medications like imipramine and other drugs like digitoxin, lithium etc. Patients on any of these drugs should inform the doctor accordingly before taking Zoloft.
Zoloft is also a category C pregnancy drug. Thus, it may have adverse effects on the fetus as well as newborn. Pregnant women as well as women who are breastfeeding should take this drug only after consultation with a doctor.
The drug is also known to have certain side effects such as dryness in the mouth, unusual weight gain or weight loss, insomnia, impotence and pain in the stomach. However, in certain cases, serious side effects may show up to the drug such as profuse sweating, abnormal heartbeat, loss of coordination, troubled breathing pattern or seizures. If any of these symptoms show up after taking the drug, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
Important safety information
- The drug is known to cause dizziness. Thus, risky tasks such as driving or working on heavy machinery should be avoided immediately after taking the drug.
- The drug can lead to suicidal thoughts in the initial stages of the treatment. Thus, the patient must be kept under close medical supervision for at least 12 weeks while taking the drug.
- Zoloft should not be taken if you are on disulfiram. Zoloft is known to react adversely with disulfiram.
- Consumption of alcohol should be avoided while on Zoloft to reduce the risk of side effects to the drug.
Dosage of Zoloft
Zoloft is available as 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg tablets. The drug is also available in liquid form. The usual dosage of the drug for treating depression is 50 mg daily. However, the dosage may go up to 200 mg daily over a period of 44 weeks, depending on the response of the patient. The dosage of the drug for treating other mental disorders is also similar. The doctor may change the dosage every now and then to improve the efficacy of the drug.
Zoloft can be taken with or without food. However, overdose of the drug should be avoided at all costs. If a dose is missed, it should be taken as soon as possible. However, it should not be clubbed with the next dose. Overdose of the drug can lead to severe symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, nausea, diarrhea etc. which require immediate medical attention.
Storage of Zoloft
Zoloft should be stored at room temperature, in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight. It should be stored out of reach of children and pets at all times.