Sertraline is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Sertraline affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression, panic, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive symptoms.
Sertraline is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Do not use sertraline if you have used an MAO inhibitor such as furazolidone (Furoxone), isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) in the last 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur, leading to serious side effects. You must wait at least 14 days after stopping an MAO inhibitor before you can take sertraline. After you stop taking sertraline, you must wait at least 14 days before you start taking an MAOI.
To make sure you can safely take sertraline, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
- liver or kidney disease;
- seizures or epilepsy;
- a bleeding or blood clotting disorder;
- bipolar disorder (manic depression); or
- a history of drug abuse or suicidal thoughts.
You may have thoughts about suicide while taking an antidepressant, especially if you are younger than 24 years old. Tell your doctor if you have worsening depression or suicidal thoughts during the first several weeks of treatment, or whenever your dose is changed.
Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Your doctor will need to check you at regular visits for at least the first 12 weeks of treatment with sertraline.
FDA pregnancy category C. SSRI antidepressants such as sertraline may cause serious or life-threatening lung problems in newborn babies whose mothers take the medication during pregnancy. However, you may have a relapse of depression if you stop taking your antidepressant during pregnancy. If you are planning a pregnancy, or if you become pregnant while taking sertraline, do not stop taking the medication without first talking to your doctor. It is not known whether sertraline passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use sertraline without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Do not give sertraline to anyone younger than 18 years old without the advice of a doctor. Sertraline is FDA-approved for children with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is not approved for treating depression in children.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to sertraline: skin rash or hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
- very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, feeling like you might pass out;
- agitation, hallucinations, fever, overactive reflexes, tremors;
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, feeling unsteady, loss of coordination; or
- headache, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, fainting, seizure, shallow breathing or breathing that stops.
Less serious sertraline side effects may include:
- drowsiness, dizziness, tired feeling;
- mild nausea, stomach pain, upset stomach, constipation;
- dry mouth;
- changes in appetite or weight;
- sleep problems (insomnia); or
- decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.