Dr. Gott: Is Zoloft a habit-forming medication?
Posted: 12/07/2009 07:04:49 PM PST
Dear Dr. Gott: Could you please tell me what sertraline hydrochloride is used for? What are the side effects? Is this product habit-forming? I would appreciate any information you can provide.
Dear Reader: Sertraline hydrochloride is the generic name for Zoloft, a drug prescribed for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic, bipolar disorder, severe forms of premenstrual syndrome, social anxiety, post traumatic stress and other psychiatric disorders.
This drug and others in the same class may interact with certain other antidepressants and anti-psychotics, St. John's wort, aspirin, aspirin-like drugs, ibuprofen, specific diet drugs, sleep medications and anticoagulants.
Warnings are posted for an elevation of depression, suicidal thoughts, agitation, irritability and psychiatric and non-psychiatric changes during the early stages of use. Patients must be closely monitored for behavioral changes that should be reported to the prescribing physician.
Premarketing evaluation of Zoloft was performed on more than 4,000 adults, and side effects included palpitations, chest pain, appetite increase, joint and muscle pain, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Some of the less common symptoms included hypertension, hypotension, abnormal gait, anemia, thirst and gastroenteritis.
I am not aware of addiction issues with this drug. However, abrupt discontinuation can produce dizziness, confusion, numbness or tingling sensations, irritability, agitation, headache, insomnia and lethargy. Should a person fail to do well on sertraline, a reduction in dosage over a period of time and under the strict supervision of the prescribing physician is appropriate. While the effects are generally self-limiting, there have been reports of serious symptoms from abrupt discontinuation.
This and other similar drugs should be prescribed by psychiatrists who are familiar with the potential side effects and can monitor each case for adverse reactions.
Write to Dr. Gott c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th fl., New York, NY 10016.