Zoloft: A Proven Treatment for Depression in Adults

By: Sean Cash

Zoloft (Sertraline) is an SSRI antidepressant originally manufactured by Pfizer whose patent protection recently expired, meaning that generic medications are going to be soon available in the market. It is used to treat major depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, bipolar disorder, and panic disorder. Zoloft is one of the few antidepressants that doesn't pass through the mother's breast milk, and so it is safe for breastfeeding mothers to take. However, it can cause fetal defects if taken during the third trimester of pregnancy, so it is not safe for pregnant women to take.

Zoloft has similar side effects to most SSRI antidepressants, including insomnia, dry mouth, constipation, dizziness, and lack of libido. It may also cause weight gain. Possible serious side effects include mania and thoughts of suicide, especially in adolescents or in senior citizens. Sometimes Zoloft's side effects may prove to be too serious or inconvenient for you to continue taking Zoloft. In this case, ask a doctor to help you come off of Zoloft, as suddenly stopping Zoloft may cause severe SSRI withdrawal symptoms. Zoloft has been implicated in a number of suicides, and is not recommended for adolescents due to the high risk of suicides for this age group. If you plan to take Zoloft, you will need to have a loved one or doctor monitor you when you first begin to take Zoloft to watch for suicidal thoughts or feelings.

Zoloft, like all SSRI antidepressants, can cause severe withdrawal effects if you stop taking it without the aid of a doctor. If you wish to stop taking Zoloft, you must enlist a doctor's help to taper off your Zoloft usage gradually, so the withdrawal effects are minimized or negated. If you do not, you may experience the feelings of electrical shocks running through your body combined with confusion and extreme mood swings associated with SSRI antidepressant withdrawal syndrome.

There is some controversy about Zoloft's effectiveness. In 2002, a British medical study found that Zoloft was no more effective than placebo in treating major depression. These trials were placebo-controlled double-blind studies. However, other medical tests showed that Zoloft is effective, and you cannot base the perception of the effectiveness of a drug on a single study. St. John's Wort was also tested in this study, and was found to be ineffective. However, other clinical trials involving St. John's Wort have suggested that it is very effective in treating depression. There may have been errors committed in the study, so you should not refuse to take Zoloft because of this one study.

Zoloft, an SSRI antidepressant, is proven to correct major clinical depression. Like all SSRI antidepressants, it carries with it a risk of side effects and withdrawal syndrome, but with the aid of a competent doctor you should be able to avoid major complications associated with the drug. Zoloft is not recommended to adolescents due to the increased risk of suicide, seemingly greater than other SSRI antidepressants.

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