Mental Health: How Long Does Zoloft Side Effects Last?

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While every individual experiences and reacts to medication differently, any medication has the potential to cause side effects.

Drugs that affect the brain are particularly likely to have adverse reactions if not taken correctly. How long does Zoloft side effects last? This article discusses the side effects of Zoloft, how long they last, and more.

Zoloft treats depression, anxiety, and other mental well-being problems by altering the level of serotonin in the brain.

This means it can effectively treat associated mental disorder symptoms but has potential side effects.

When considering any drug, weighing the possible benefits against potential risks or side effects is vital.

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How long does Zoloft side effects last?

Before discussing the possible side effects of Zoloft, let’s first cover some basic facts about sertraline.

Sertraline, the generic name of Zoloft, belongs to a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Zoloft is a controlled substance available in pill and oral solution form.

This drug class affects the balance of serotonin in the brain, the neurotransmitter that regulates mood, emotions, and overall mental well-being.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved using Zoloft in 1991. Doctors often prescribe Zoloft to manage or treat mental well-being conditions, such as:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Manic depressive disorder

It is also usually used off-label to treat chronic fatigue syndrome, bulimia nervosa, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other eating disorders.

The most commonly reported adverse effects of taking Zoloft include the following:

  • Headache or migraine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Dry mouth or taste changes
  • Weight gain

Additionally, some users experience weight gain or loss because of changes in appetite resulting from taking this medication.

Aside from these common symptoms, clinical trials have recorded adverse reactions to taking Zoloft.

These include:

Dyspepsia: Zoloft can cause dyspepsia, which leads to symptoms such as indigestion, abdominal pain, and nausea.

Hyperhidrosis: This condition causes people to experience excessive sweating, often without any apparent cause.

Ejaculation failure: Men may experience difficulty achieving orgasm due to taking Zoloft.

Decreased libido: A decrease in libido or sexual desire is also a common side effect of taking this medication.

Before taking Zoloft, ask your doctor about all the potential side effects and discuss any pre-existing health conditions.

Zoloft Side Effects To Expect in the First Week

Within the first week of beginning the medication, Zoloft users may experience mild side effects.

For example, the user may feel tired or experience minor headaches, lightheadedness, or dizziness.

Some may feel more tired than usual as their body adjusts to the new medication.

Other common side effects that may appear within the first week include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Upset stomach, indigestion, or constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness
  • Drowsiness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight loss or gain

For many users, these minor side effects will pass within the first two weeks of starting the drug.

However, you should talk to your healthcare expert if the symptoms are severe, intermittent, or do not improve within a few weeks.

Serious Side Effects of Zoloft

In rare cases, Zoloft can cause more severe side effects. You should speak with your healthcare expert or pharmacist before beginning any new medication and closely monitor any changes in health while taking the drug.

The Zoloft (sertraline HCL) prescribing information warns users of the potential serious side effects.

Serotonin Syndrome

Using Zoloft increases serotonin levels and can cause serotonin syndrome, a potentially deadly condition that results from too much serotonin in the body. Taking Zoloft alone or with other medications can cause this medical emergency.

Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:

  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Confusion
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased body temperature
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Tremors or muscle spasms
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of coordination

When using Zoloft, take the medication as prescribed and avoid using other medications to prevent drug interactions that can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome.

Increased Bleeding Risk

People taking SSRIs, including Zoloft, may be at a higher risk of experiencing excessive bleeding. SSRIs can interfere with the body’s blood-clotting process.

As a result, Zoloft users may experience frequent nosebleeds, intense bruising when bumped, or excessive bleeding when cut or scratched.

Additionally, Zoloft users must avoid using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin, warfarin, and other antiplatelet and anticoagulant medications, as they can also increase the risk of bleeding.

You should consult your healthcare provider before using over-the-counter (OTC) drugs while on Zoloft.

Mania or Hypomania

Mania and hypomania are severe side effects of taking SSRIs, including Zoloft.

Mania is a condition characterized by extreme excitement and restlessness that can lead to impulsive and dangerous behaviors.

Hypomania is a milder form of mania that lasts for shorter periods than regular manic episodes.

Symptoms of mania or hypomania include:

  • Abnormally high energy levels
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Euphoric feelings
  • Extreme irritability
  • Impulsive or inappropriate behavior
  • Grandiose thinking

Zoloft has been linked to hypomanic or manic episodes. Users with a history of bipolar disorder, depression, or other mental health illnesses may be more likely to experience mania or hypomania that taking Zoloft may trigger or exacerbate.


In rare cases, Zoloft can increase the risk of seizures, especially for those with a history of seizure disorder.

The cause of seizures is excessive electrical activity in the brain that occurs suddenly and without warning.

Symptoms of a seizure include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling sensation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle contractions
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Visual disturbances
  • Loss of coordination

If these symptoms occur while taking Zoloft, speak with a doctor immediately.


Low sodium levels in the blood can trigger a condition called hyponatremia. This electrolyte imbalance can be a side effect of taking Zoloft or other SSRIs.

This medication affects hormone levels, which can cause water retention and lead to low blood sodium levels.

Symptoms of hyponatremia include:

  • Confusion
  • Memory issues
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Headache and nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of coordination
  • Hallucination
  • Seizure

Using Zoloft may increase a person’s risk of hyponatremia. Elderly users are more likely to experience this side effect because their bodies do not regulate water and sodium levels well.

It is cogent to contact a medical expert if you experience the above symptoms while taking Zoloft.

Angle-closure Glaucoma

Another severe side effect of Zoloft is angle-closure glaucoma. This condition occurs when the angle between the iris and cornea narrows, causing increased eye pressure that can damage the optic nerve. Symptoms of angle-closure glaucoma include:

  • Pain in the eyes or head
  • Redness in the eyes
  • Increased pressure in the eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Halos appearing around lights
  • Headache and migraine
  • Nausea and vomiting

Angle-closure glaucoma can manifest itself immediately or gradually over time. Users with anatomically narrow angles in the eye must be cautious when taking Zoloft, as they have an increased risk of angle-closure glaucoma.

Allergic Reactions

Whether short-term or prolonged, using Zoloft can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Itching or rashes
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, and face
  • Wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Anaphylaxis

If any of these symptoms occur, seek prompt medical attention. It is necessary to know of any potential side effects of taking Zoloft before starting a course of the medication.

Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors

In rare and extreme cases, Zoloft has been linked to suicidal thoughts and behaviors, especially in pediatric and young adult users.

This is more common among people with a history of bipolar disorder, depression, or other mental health issues.

It is vital to speak with your doctor immediately if you experience any thoughts of suicide or self-harm while taking Zoloft. This medication must come with a black box warning for suicide ideation.

Close monitoring of the beginning or worsening of suicidal thoughts and behaviors is necessary when taking Zoloft.

Similarly, support from family and friends can also be beneficial when managing any potential side effects, especially for those prone to mental health problems.

How long does Zoloft side effects last

Zoloft Side Effects on Women

Women will likely experience similar effects of Zoloft as other male users. This can include mood changes and decreased libido. Women may also experience changes in menstrual cycles while taking Zoloft.

Pregnant women, however, are more susceptible to the risks and side effects of taking Zoloft. The National Alliance on Mental Illness warns that women with depression who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant should be especially cautious about taking Zoloft.

Untreated depression can negatively affect both the mother and unborn fetus, so it’s vital to manage depression with the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider.

They can help determine if Zoloft is safe for you and your baby and weigh the risks versus benefits of taking it during pregnancy.

Pregnant women taking antidepressants from 13 weeks gestation until the end of the pregnancy may risk having a premature baby.

The medication can also cause newborns to develop withdrawal symptoms, such as jitteriness, fussiness, and breathing problems.

Additionally, sertraline can pass through breast milk and harm a nursing infant. If you are breastfeeding, be sure to discuss the risks with your doctor before taking Zoloft.

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) is another potential risk for newborns whose mothers took an SSRI medication during their pregnancy.

Although there is a less than 1% chance of PPHN, it can still be a potentially deadly condition for the newborn.

It’s also vital to note that discontinuing antidepressants abruptly is five times more likely to cause a depression relapse in women compared to those who maintained the medication.

Before stopping or changing your Zoloft dosage, discuss the potential risks and adverse effects with your doctor.

Side Effects of Increasing Zoloft From 25 mg to 50 mg

If your doctor recommends increasing the dose of Zoloft, be aware that it may bring on new side effects or intensify existing ones.

Generally, when starting Zoloft at a 25 mg dosage, people may experience nausea, headache, sweating, and fatigue.

Additionally, they may also have trouble sleeping and feel dizzy or anxious.

When increasing the dosage to 50 mg, some may experience an increase in the intensity or frequency of the side effects.

You may also experience more severe adverse effects such as seizures, angle-closure glaucoma, and serotonin syndrome.

Zoloft Drug Interaction Side Effects

It’s also essential to consider potential drug interaction when taking Zoloft- a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, as they can cause dangerous side effects. You should avoid combining Zoloft with the following drugs:

  • Other SSRIs
  • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Fentanyl
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Amphetamines
  • Buspirone
  • Lithium
  • Tryptophan
  • Tramadol
  • St. John’s Wort

It’s also crucial not to drink alcohol while taking Zoloft, as it can interact with the drug and cause severe side effects.

The Zoloft-alcohol interaction can also cause a sertraline overdose, a life-threatening medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

How Long Does Zoloft Side Effects Last?

The side effects of Zoloft vary depending on the individual, as everyone responds differently to medications.

The intensity and frequency of symptoms may slowly reduce over a period as your body adjusts to the drug.

A week or two should be ample time for the side effects to go away. It’s also possible to have intermittent side effects over the entire course of the medication.

If you need to increase your dosage, most doctors allow a four to eight-week adjustment window for your body’s system to get used to the increased dosage.

If you are experiencing persisting intensifying side effects after two weeks of taking Zoloft, inform your doctor immediately to avoid any potential health risks.

Regularly monitoring your mental health is essential, as Zoloft can take a few weeks to start working correctly.

Zoloft Sexual Side Effects

It’s common for individuals taking Zoloft to experience sexual side effects, such as:

  • Decreased libido
  • Difficulty achieving orgasm
  • Delayed ejaculation
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Sexual dysfunction

These sexual side effects can be highly detrimental to a person’s quality of life and personal relationships, so you must speak with your doctor if experiencing any of them.

How Long Do Zoloft Sexual Side Effects Last?

The duration of Zoloft’s sexual side effects depends on the individual and their body’s response to the medication. Generally, the sexual side effects should subside within two weeks of taking Zoloft as your body adjusts to the medicine. If they worsen or don’t improve after this time frame, speak with your doctor about changing medications or finding an alternative treatment option.

In rare cases, the sexual side effects can persist for weeks, months, or even years. Consult with your medical expert to determine your best course of action.

Side Effects of Stopping Zoloft

Do not stop Zoloft abruptly, as it can cause severe Zoloft withdrawal symptoms. It’s crucial to speak with your medical expert before stopping your medication, as they can advise on how to stop taking it safely.

When stopping the medication, it’s vital to monitor your mental health closely and gradually taper down the dosage under your doctor’s direction. This ensures that the withdrawal symptoms remain minimal.

How Long Do Zoloft Overdose Effects Last?

A Zoloft overdose can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. There is no correct response to how long the effects of a Zoloft overdose last, as it will depend on the amount overdosed on and how quickly medical help is received. Additionally, there are no specific antidotes or treatments for a Zoloft overdose, so seeking medical help is vital.

When To See a Doctor for Zoloft Side Effects

If you plan on taking Zoloft, you should see your doctor before starting the medication to ensure it’s safe for you to take. Additionally, if any side effects persist or worsen after two weeks, seek medical advice as soon as possible, so your doctor can prescribe a general reduction dose or a different medication option. They can also tell when it’s best to stop taking the medication.

Read Also: Lexapro vs Zoloft: Similarities, Differences, Drug Interactions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The length and intensity of the side effects depend on the patient and their body’s response to the medication. Generally, it takes one or two weeks for the side effects to go away. Call your doctor if the side effects persist or worsen.

Nausea is a common side effect of Zoloft, but it affects everyone differently. For some people, it subsides after a few hours or days. If you still have nausea after two weeks of taking Zoloft, contact your doctor.

Missing doses of Zoloft can cause discontinuation syndromes, such as headaches, nausea, mood swings, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, and dizziness. If you miss a dose of Zoloft, be sure to take it immediately if the next dose isn’t near. Do not double up to make up for missed doses.

Dizziness lasts depending on the user’s reaction to the medication. It can remain for a few hours or days for some people. If you’re still experiencing dizziness after two weeks, contact your doctor to discuss possible solutions.

The most common adverse effects associated with Zoloft include fatigue, nausea, headache, diarrhea, and dizziness. Generally, these side effects fade away within two weeks of taking the medication. If they remain or worsen after this time frame, consult your doctor for advice on the next steps or treatment options.

The side effects of Zoloft can vary from person to person, but they usually include headache, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and diarrhea. Additionally, some people may experience a surge in anxiety or depression symptoms. How long does Zoloft side effects last? You must speak with your medical expert if the side effects worsen or persist for weeks.

When increasing the dose of Zoloft, you may experience adverse effects such as nausea, dizziness, headache, drowsiness, and insomnia. You may also experience severe mood swings. If the negative effects become too intense or persist for over two weeks, speak to your doctor about reducing or discontinuing your dosage.

Long-term use of sertraline (Zoloft) can lead to decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and difficulty reaching orgasm. Additionally, you may experience severe side effects, like serotonin syndrome, seizures, and mania. Consult your medical expert if any of these adverse effects occur.


The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

You shouldn’t wait to see the doctor for simple health needs.