Zoloft: A Definitive Guide To The Mood-Enhancing Drug
Zoloft is a pharmaceutical drug that belongs to a class of medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs are often prescribed to those who suffer from anxiety, depression, PTSD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
By interacting with brain chemistry and the activity of certain neuronal bodies, Zoloft can improve mood, reduce panic attacks and treat the symptoms of OCD.
Often, pharmaceutical medicines cause many unwanted side-effects, some of which may persist even after use. There are also withdrawal symptoms to consider after cessation. There are alternatives to Zoloft with minimal side effects, such as CBD treatment.
In this article, we will have a look in detail at Zoloft, its side effects and alternative forms of treatment.
All of the information in this article should be considered informational and is not a substitute for medical advice. Consultation with a doctor is always recommended before pursuing treatment for any condition.
What is Zoloft?
Zoloft is a drug often prescribed by doctors to patients complaining of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety or disorders such as PTSD and OCD. It is also used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
It works by increasing the levels of a specific neurotransmitter called serotonin, thereby improving mood and decreasing anxiety.
It is thought that conditions such as PTSD and OCD result from an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. This imbalance leads to repetitive behavior (such as in OCD) or the persistence of unwanted thoughts, such as is the case with depression or anxiety.
Zoloft is prescribed to restore this balance of chemicals in the brain, relieving the patient of their symptoms.
In general, the effects of Zoloft do not take place immediately. The full effects of Zoloft can be felt within four weeks of commencing treatment. There is the risk of addiction with Zoloft because cessation of use can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as nausea and irritability.
Sertraline – The Main Ingredient
The main ingredient of Zoloft is a chemical called sertraline. As we briefly mentioned, this chemical belongs to a class of chemicals called SSRIs.
By decreasing the reuptake of serotonin, more of it becomes available in the blood and therefore in the brain. The increase in levels of serotonin improves sleep, appetite, mood, and interest in daily living.
The Effects of Zoloft Usage
The remedial effects of Zoloft may not be felt straight away. Within four weeks, the patient should experience some of the remedial effects and relief from their symptoms.
Remedial effects may include an overall greater interest in being alive, decreases fear, undesired thoughts, and anxiety. It improves the mood by operating on many levels.
Greater quality of sleep, more pronounced appetite and more energy can all contribute to elevating the mood. These are the kinds of benefits that users of Zoloft might expect to experience.
Zoloft is not the only pharmaceutical medication that belongs to the group of SSRIs. Other drugs are available on the market, although they are prescribed to different people for different reasons. Let’s have a look at how some of them compare to Zoloft.
Zoloft vs. Prozac
Although both Zoloft and Prozac are sometimes interchangeably used for the same medical condition, there are certain conditions in which the only one of them will be prescribed. The main ingredient of Prozac is fluoxetine.
Here are some of the situations in which Zoloft or Prozac would be prescribed:
Both drugs can cause similar side effects, although Zoloft is more likely to cause diarrhea. Prozac is more likely to cause issues with sleep than Zoloft.
Zoloft vs. Lexapro
Again, Lexapro belongs to the class of medicines called SSRIs. It works in much the same manner as Zoloft, increasing the levels of serotonin neurotransmitter in the brain. However, they are not necessarily prescribed for the same ailments.
The active ingredient of Lexapro is escitalopram, compared to sertraline which is the active component of Zoloft.
While Zoloft is prescribed for those suffering from PTSD, OCD, depression and social anxiety, Lexapro is prescribed mainly for general anxiety disorder and depression. The side effects of both Zoloft and Lexapro are very similar, including sleep disturbances, headaches, and blurred vision.
Other side effects include influenza-like symptoms and a sore neck and shoulders. The only major difference in side effect between these two drugs is that Zoloft is known to cause constipation, while Lexapro is not.
Zoloft vs. Celexa
The major difference between Zoloft and Celexa is in the conditions they are used to treat. Zoloft has a number of applications, including OCD, PTSD, PMDD, and SAD. Celexa, on the other hand, is only used to treat major depression. The generic name of Celexa drug is citalopram hydrobromide.
Side effects also differ between Zoloft and Celexa. Common side effects include drowsiness, fatigue, sleep disturbance, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, dry mouth, and impotence.
However, Zoloft is known to cause nervousness, skin rashes, headaches, changes in appetite and weight loss. Celexa’s side effects include increased sweating, urination and influenza-like symptoms.
The Recommended Dosage for Zoloft
Zoloft is available in three different dosages. Depending on the age of the patient and the complaint that he or she has, the doctor may prescribe a different dose. The drug is available in 25mg, 50mg, and 100mg capsules.
The recommended daily dosage for adults is:
In general, the therapeutic range is between 25 and 200mg, and the dosage may be altered by a doctor if the patient is not expressing positive results. This is especially true for patients with PMDD.
The recommended daily dosage for children is:
Patients are always tested for hepatic impairment before a decision is made about dosage.
The Zoloft Side Effects
Zoloft, along with many other drugs in the SSRI classification is known for quite a long list of side effects. While some of them are mild and not considered to be dangerous, other symptoms are severe and a doctor may stop prescribing upon presentation some of these symptoms.
Common Side Effects
- Dry mouth
- A headache
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased sexual desire
- Sleep disturbance
- Tremors (shaking)
- Skin Rashes
Severe Side Effects
These side effects are considered to be severe, and if a patient presents with these side effects, the doctor may cease to prescribe Zoloft.
- Changes in behavior (violence, aggravation)
- Blurred vision
- Nervousness, inability to sit still and fast talking
- Symptoms of liver problems
- Symptoms of low blood sodium
- Symptoms of low blood sugar
- Serotonin syndrome
- Symptoms of blood clotting problems
- Symptoms of high blood sugar
- Symptoms of mania (decreased need for sleep, out of control excitability and fast-paced thoughts)
- Unusual or sudden body or facial movements
- Allergic reactions (swelling of tongue and throat, hives)
- Signs of bleeding in the stomach
- Suicidal thoughts
Zoloft Can Cause Hallucinations
The US National Library of Medicine says that in very severe circumstances, Zoloft may cause hallucinations. It is not a common side-effect, but it may suggest that the patient is not suitable for Zoloft. Hallucinations might also be caused by an overdose of Zoloft or if it is used inappropriately.
Zoloft Can Cause Serotonin Syndrome
Serotonin syndrome is essentially caused by the accumulation of serotonin in the brain. It can be caused by long periods of antidepressant use, such as Zoloft, or if antidepressants such as Zoloft are used in conjunction with an opioid pain medication. The symptoms of mild serotonin syndrome include shivering and diarrhea.
However, the condition can worsen and produce severe symptoms such as seizures and fever. If left untreated, serotonin syndrome may be fatal.
What Happens If I Mix Zoloft With Alcohol?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not recommend consuming alcohol while you are taking Zoloft. Although there is not much in the way of scientific research when it comes to mixing these two substances, it is generally not thought to be a good idea.
Zoloft and alcohol interact with your brain chemistry in opposing ways, and having them both at the same time may cause complications. In general, the consumption of alcohol while taking Zoloft can further amplify the side-effects, especially nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness. It is also worth noting here that alcohol compromises liver function and a strong liver is required to take Zoloft.
Buying Zoloft Online
It is never recommended to purchase antidepressants online. You should always consult a doctor before taking antidepressants and receive a script. A doctor will give you valuable information about dosage and is able to monitor side effects with you.
If you already have a prescription and just wish to fulfill the prescription online, this is okay. Just make sure that you choose a reputable source for buying your prescription products and always ensure that you have received what you purchased.
Zoloft Abuse And Addiction
In general, there is not a huge risk of Zoloft abuse. This is because Zoloft doesn’t really make you “high”. Also, the effects can take up to four weeks to present themselves, which means it doesn’t show much potential for abuse. However, addiction is possible because of the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms.
A patient may be advised to stop using Zoloft, but upon experiencing withdrawal symptoms is very much inclined to use it again. Although it is not addictive in the manner that we generally define addiction (it does not give the user a noticeable, immediate effect), the withdrawal potential makes addiction a very likely scenario.
Zoloft Withdrawal Effects
You know you are experiencing Zoloft withdrawal if symptoms present themselves to you within days of the cessation of use. This is also true if the symptoms disappear almost instantly after you begin using the medication again. These are the common withdrawal symptoms of Zoloft:
- Mood swings
- Electric shock like sensations
- Flu-like symptoms
- A headache
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle spasms
Alternatives to Zoloft
Unfortunately, Zoloft belongs to a class of medicines that is painfully over-prescribed in the USA. Too many Americans are presented with antidepressants as treatment and are not sufficiently advised of the alternatives.
But alternatives do exist. Some of these alternatives are not necessarily better (such as opioids), while non-opioid treatments also pose an alternative to antidepressants.
Non-opioid alternatives to antidepressants are broad and suited for all kinds of people. Many patients who do not want to take antidepressants explore alternatives such as:
- Counseling therapy
- Herbal antidepressants (St John’s Wort)
- Art and music therapy
- Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
- Alterations in diet and lifestyle
In fact, certain medical professionals believe that these treatments should be tried prior to prescribing antidepressants. Zoloft and other pharmaceutical antidepressants are used as a final resort.
Replacing Zoloft With CBD
People all over the world have been seeking out CBD and other cannabis products as an alternative to a lot of pharmaceutical medication. While pharmaceuticals have their place, they simply don’t work for everybody. The world is now in a place where it desperately seeks alternatives that are safer, less addictive and less invasive than conventional methods.
CBD is one of those medicines. It has the potential to treat such a wide range of complaints, from mood disorders such as depression to physical issues such as Crohn’s disease.
For those who suffer from extreme depression, a herbal alternative that works – and works fast – is welcomed. So we’re having a look at how CBD can be an alternative form of treatment for those who seek a healthy treatment for depression.
How CBD Helps With Depression
Although CBD is not a cure for depression, it can definitely help to mitigate some of the symptoms associated with it. By interacting with the endocannabinoid system of the human body, CBD is possibly able to restore some homeostasis when it comes to brain chemistry.
Interestingly, THC is known to mimic a certain neurotransmitter in the brain called anandamide. This is why it makes you high. On the other hand, CBD works in a much more peripheral way. It inhibits the degradation of anandamide, therefore making this neurotransmitter more available in the brain.
Anandamide is sometimes called the “bliss molecule”, and plays an integral role in mood, appetite, sleep, memory, and libido.
This is why it feels very natural to consume CBD as opposed to THC, which is very psychoactive! What is felt when someone consumes CBD is much more like a “natural” high. And in fact, it is.
Anandamide is one of the neurotransmitters responsible for the “high on life” kind of feeling. As we mentioned, this may not be a cure for depression, but it certainly presents a natural and healthy management of symptoms.
Why Choose CBD Over Zoloft?
The most obvious reason to choose CBD over a pharmaceutical drug such as Zoloft is in the side effects. While Zoloft can be the cause of many unwanted side effects, there are virtually none associated with CBD. At the very least, if a patient doesn’t experience relief from CBD, they don’t have to deal with any nasty side effects.
There are also no known long-term side effects of using CBD. There’s no risk of serotonin syndrome, for example.
There is also no threat of addiction with CBD in the sense that there are no withdrawal symptoms. It may be much easier to wean off CBD when the moment arrives compared to weaning off Zoloft.
Where To Get CBD
If you live in a cannabis-friendly country, it’s really easy to get your hands on CBD. CBD oil processed from hemp is available in all 50 states in the USA. However, CBD oils that contain THC are only available in legalized states.
You can purchase it in a dispensary, in health food or organic stores and you can even purchase online. Just always remember to double check the source and ensure that you are purchasing a product in line with ethical cultivation and minimal contaminants.