The active ingredient sertraline is used to treat depression as well as anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. The antidepressant develops its effect in the brain by increasing the concentration of the messenger substance serotonin there. Like other antidepressants, sertraline has side effects: Dizziness, headaches and gastrointestinal problems may occur during treatment. Find out more here about possible side effects as well as the effect and dosage of the active ingredient.
Effect of sertraline
Sertraline, like citalopram and fluoxetine, is one of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This group inhibits in the brain the reuptake of the messenger serotonin into the cells, so that the concentration in the synaptic cleft increases. This counteracts depression - because depression is probably caused by a lack of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain.
Sertraline is used to treat depression, it increases the drive from the first intake. By contrast, it may take a few days for the mood-enhancing effects of the antidepressant to begin. The drug is not only used for the treatment of depression, but also preventive: By taking it is to be ensured that do not re-depressive phases occur.
Side effects of sertraline
Sertraline has a number of side effects - the severity of these effects depends mainly on the dose you are taking. Some of the side effects disappear over time or at least improve during the course of treatment. In general, the antidepressant has fewer side effects than other SSRIs.
The most common side effects include:
- Insomnia and tiredness
- sexual Dysfunction
- Gastrointestinal problems like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation
- skin rash
- a headache
- stomach pain
Occasionally, by taking the drug to side effects such as weight gain, fever, skin bleeding, liver disorders, hair loss, high blood pressure and arrhythmia come. In addition, platelet deficiency, hypothyroidism, seizures and urinary retention can rarely occur.
For a complete list of the side effects of Sertraline, see the package leaflet.
Serotonin syndrome as a dangerous side effect
Overdose with sertraline or the concomitant use of other medications that affect serotonin levels can cause life-threatening serotonin syndrome. Excessive levels of serotonin in the brain can cause symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, sweating, confusion, and seizures, including coma. Serotonin syndrome is life-threatening and must therefore be treated in the intensive care unit.
If you want to stop taking Sertraline, you also have to expect side effects. Whether and how much they occur depends not only on the dosage and duration of treatment but also on the speed of the dose reduction. Therefore, you should never stop the drug abruptly, but always stop the treatment slowly. Discuss with your doctor what you should do best when discontinuing the drug.
Side effects such as headache, nausea, vomiting, sleep disturbances, dizziness and anxiety may occur when discontinuing Sertraline. As a rule, the symptoms resolve within two weeks, but sometimes it can take between two and three months until all side effects have disappeared.
Dosage of sertraline
You should always discuss the optimal dose of sertraline with your doctor. Depending on the diagnosis, the dosage of the active ingredient may be different. Unless otherwise prescribed, the following doses are common in adults:
- Depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder: 50 mg of sertraline once a day (maximum dose: 200 milligrams)
- Panic Disorders, Anxiety Disorders and Posttraumatic Stress Disorders: Initially 25 milligrams of sertraline daily, the dose may be increased to 50 milligrams after one week (maximum dose: 200 milligrams)
Sertraline should be taken once a day, morning or evening. Due to the mood-enhancing effect, the intake is recommended in the morning. The active ingredient can be taken either at or between meals.
Contraindications of Sertraline
As with other drugs, there are a number of contraindications to sertraline. For example, the drug should not be used if hypersensitivity to the antidepressant drug is present.
Likewise, sertraline should not be taken if treatment with MAO inhibitors takes place at the same time. In general, there should be a minimum of 14 days between treatment with MAO inhibitors and sertraline therapy. Otherwise, the life-threatening serotonin syndrome can occur.
In addition to MAO inhibitors, sertraline should not be taken with pimozide and disulfiram.
While taking Sertraline there may be interactions with certain other medicines. This applies in particular to the following active substances:
- Medicines containing the amino acid tryptophan
- Herbal medicine with St. John's wort
- Medication for the treatment of severe pain
- Medicines for the treatment of migraine
- Medications for the treatment of ulcers and excess stomach acid
If you are taking any of these medicines, you should tell your doctor before beginning treatment. This also applies if you are already being treated with another antidepressant.
Increased risk of suicide at the beginning of treatment
Under certain conditions, the use of sertraline should be made with particular caution. This is the case, for example, in patients with epilepsy or other seizure disorders. People who have had schizophrenia or manic-depressive illness in the past must also be closely monitored during treatment.
Persons suffering from liver disease, diabetes or a bleeding disorder should inform their doctor about their condition before starting treatment. The same applies to people who have a low sodium level and take blood-thinning or hypotensive medicines.
Taking Sertraline may increase the risk of suicide at the beginning of treatment. This side effect particularly affects young adults under the age of 25 years. If you have had thoughts of self-harm or suicide in the past, you should discuss it with your doctor before taking it. If the thoughts occur while taking, you should also consult your doctor or speak with a confidant.
Sertraline and alcohol
During treatment with Sertraline you should refrain from the consumption of alcohol. Although studies have found no negative effects on physical and mental abilities due to the mixture of the two substances. Nevertheless, it is recommended - as with many other medicines - during the treatment to drink alcohol.
pregnancy and breast feeding period
During pregnancy and lactation, it is not recommended to take Sertraline. The active substance may only be used if absolutely necessary and after consultation with a doctor. Because the ingestion can lead to malformations of the unborn child and increased blood pressure in the lungs of the newborn.
In lactating women, the antidepressant passes into small quantities in the breast milk. Therefore, the active ingredient should not be taken during breast-feeding. Although no damage to the baby's health has been observed so far, it can not be ruled out.
Sertraline in children and adolescents
Children and adolescents should also be treated with sertraline only in exceptional cases and after a careful cost-benefit analysis. Ingesting them may result in increased aggressive behavior and increased suicidal risk. In addition, there is currently insufficient knowledge about possible consequences for the development of the child.