Sertraline is a prescription medication used for the treatment of depression an
d anxiety. It belongs to a group of medicines called SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors).
Uses of Sertraline
- Treatment and prevention of major depressive episodes
- Anxiety disorder
- A mental disorder in which a person fails to recover after watching or experiencing a terrible incident or accident (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD)
- Panic disorder, with or without fear of places and situations that may cause panic (agoraphobia)
- A behavioral disorder in which a person repeatedly does the same thing (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD) (in adults and children and adolescents aged 6-17 years old)
Contraindications of Sertraline
When should one not use Sertraline
- Allergic reactions or intolerance to Sertraline or any of the substances used in the tablet
- A class of antidepressants called irreversible MAO (Monoamine Oxidase) inhibitors (Phenelzine, Selegiline, Moclobemide, Toloxatone, Brofaromine, Isocarboxazid)
- Pimozide (an antipsychotic)
Side effects of Sertraline
Common side effects of this drug are:
- Sleep disorders (sleeplessness or insomnia, excessive sleep)
- Dizziness, headache
- Dry mouth
- Abdominal pain, upset stomach, diarrhea & constipation
- Tremors, shaking muscular movements, numbness, and tingling
- Ejaculation failure (failure to release sperm), menstrual irregularities in females
- Increased sweating
- Severe anxiety
- Decreased appetite
- Suicidal thoughts and behavior have been reported when using
- Sertraline or immediately after discontinuation
Precautions and Warnings of Sertraline
Can I take Sertraline during pregnancy?
Sertraline is not recommended in pregnancy unless there is no other alternative as it may be harmful for the unborn baby. Consult your doctor if you are pregnant or might be pregnant.
Can I take Sertraline while breastfeeding?
Sertraline is secreted into breast milk but not known to cause any harmful effects. But it is advised to use Sertraline while breastfeeding if your doctor feels it is necessary and there are no other alternatives.
Can I drive if I have consumed Sertraline?
Sertraline is a medicine that acts on the brain and may cause side effects like dizziness, headache, vision problems and altered mental states (though not in all cases). It is recommended to be extremely cautious while driving and it is advised not to drive for long distances.
Can I consume alcohol with Sertraline?
Do not drink alcohol while on the medication of Sertraline as alcohol also causes a high level of Sertraline and the combined effect may be harmful.
Other General Warnings
Talk to your doctor if
- You have seizures (fits)
- You have blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, headache, confusion, memory problems, severe weakness, feeling unsteady (symptoms of low levels of sodium in the body)
- You have racing thoughts, increased energy, unusual risk-taking behavior, extreme happiness, being irritable or talkative
- You have diabetes or liver problems, bleeding disorders, serotonin syndrome (severe anxiety (agitation), tremors and persistent fever (hyperthermia)), neuroleptic malignant syndrome (a life threatening condition with high fever, increased breathing and heart rate and altered mental status in response to certain antipsychotic medicines)...
Mode of Action of Sertraline
How Does It Work?
Serotonin is a natural substance produced in the body which acts as a messenger to transmit signals in the brain (neurotransmitter). It is known as ‘happy chemical’ as it promotes positive thoughts and happy feelings. Sertraline prolongs the action of serotonin and thereby reduces depression....
Interactions of Sertraline
Interactions with other medicines
- Medicines that may (prolong QT interval) cause irregular heartbeats and heart attack (Quinidine, Disopyramide, Procainamide, Propafenone, Amiodarone, Sotalol)
- Medicines that increase the risk of bleeding (Warfarin, pain killers, Aspirin)
- Muscle relaxing medicines (Mivacurium)
- Medicines used to treat migraine (Triptans – Almotriptan, Sumatriptan, Naratriptan, Zolmitriptan)
- Medicines to treat heart disease and high blood pressure (Digoxin, Atenolol, Verapamil, Diltiazem, Flecainide, Propafenone)
- Medicines used to reduce stomach acid (Cimetidine, Omeprazole, Lansoprazole)
- Anti-infectious medicines (Rifampicin, Clarithromycin, Erythromycin)
- Antifungal medications (Ketoconazole, Itraconazole, Posaconazole, etc.)
- Medicines to treat HIV/ AIDS (Ritonavir)
- A class of antidepressants called MAO (Monoamine Oxidase) inhibitors (Phenelzine, Selegiline, Moclobemide, Toloxatone, Isocarboxazid)
- Other medicines which depress brain function (Carbamazepine, Haloperidol, Phenytoin)
- Pimozide (an antipsychotic)
Interactions with food items
Sertraline does not interact with food and can be taken before or after meals.
Dietary Restrictions of Sertraline
Sertraline must not be taken with grapefruit juice. It may increase the level of Sertraline in your body.
Dosage of Sertraline
- Being sick (vomiting)
- Feeling sleepy
- Fast heart rate
Missed a Dose
If you forget to take a dose, do not take the missed dose. Just take the subsequent dosage at the right time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Is there anything else I must know about Sertraline?
- Sertraline is one of the better efficacious and safer medicines compared to other antidepressants
- Most of the side effects occur within the first two weeks of starting the treatment and are less frequent and less severe compared to other medicines used to treat depression
- Sertraline is associated with restlessness (akathisia), where the patient is unable to sit or stand still and has a desire to move around. This is often seen in the first few weeks and there is no cause for concern. Inform your doctor. The symptoms usually subside in a few days or your dose may need to be adjusted...
- Self-medication or self-adjusting the dosage of Sertraline is strictly not advised
Q: What is Serotonin syndrome?
A: When Sertraline is used with certain other medicines (e.g. irreversible Monoamine Oxidase (MAO) inhibitors like Selegiline, Moclobemide, etc.), it may cause levels of serotonin to increase leading to a condition called serotonin syndrome. Severe anxiety (agitation), tremors and high-temperature condition (hyperthermia).
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