Girardi | Keese

Zoloft: Do the Risks Outweigh the Benefits?

The antidepressant Zoloft has been linked to some unpleasant and even dangerous side effects, but has also been shown to be effective at helping people who struggle with clinical depression.

So should people take the drug? Are the risks too significant, or do the benefits outweigh the potential for harm?

Talking with a doctor can help you decide, but doing research on your own is also important. That way you have all the information you need in order to make an informed decision regarding whether to use Zoloft.

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft (sertraline) is an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class antidepressant. Pfizer brought Zoloft to the market in 1991 and it is used for major depressive disorder along with social anxiety, panic disorder, and OCD. It can be used in adults and children, and 41 million prescriptions were written for it in 2013. While many people take Zoloft effectively, there have been some reported side effects with the drug. Most are mild, but some can be very significant.

Zoloft Side Effects

For people who choose to take Zoloft, it's very important to read about and understand the side effects. That way you know whether you are experiencing a problem with your medication, and can talk to your doctor about effective ways to reduce or eliminate side effects so you can continue to benefit from needed treatment. The more you know about the potential for side effects with any medication, the more easily you can decide if taking it is right for you. Side effects of Zoloft may include:

  • Trembling
  • Nausea
  • Weight gain
  • Diarrhea
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Restlessness, agitation, or anxiety
  • Birth defects

Zoloft and Birth Defects

The argument over whether antidepressants like Zoloft have been linked to birth defects has been taking place for some time. Studies have shown that the highest risk is to mothers who take these drugs early on in their pregnancy. Managing depression during pregnancy is important, but so is the safety of the unborn baby. That can make it difficult for doctors to determine the best course of action for women taking Zoloft and who want to become or have become pregnant.

Some studies have shown that antidepressants in general are poor choices for pregnant women because of the birth defect risks, while other studies have shown that there is no known association between Zoloft and birth defects. Talking with your doctor is vital to making the decision that will be right for you and your unborn child.

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