Zoloft (sertraline HCl) is an antidepressant medication known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), and is used to treat depression, social anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) in adults.
Zoloft is prescribed to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Like other SSRIs, Zoloft is also used for treating postmenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Zoloft was approved by the FDA in 1991 to treat depression, social anxiety disorder, posttraumatic, stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) in adults over age 18. It is also approved for OCD in children and adolescents age 6-17 years.
The most common side effects associated with Zoloft are sleepiness, nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, tremor, skin rash, upset stomach, loss of appetite, headache, diarrhea, abnormal ejaculation, dry mouth and weight loss. More severe side effects include irregular heartbeats, allergic reactions and activation of mania in patients with bipolar disorder.
In July 2006, the FDA issued two alerts related to Zoloft. The first FDA alert announced the results of a study concerning the use of antidepressant medicines during pregnancy by mothers of babies born with a serious condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). The second FDA alert states that a life-threatening condition called Serotonin Syndrome can occur when SSRIs, such as Zoloft, and medicines used to treat migraine headaches known as 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonists (triptans) are taken together. Further, over the last few years, the FDA has worked closely with the manufacturers of Zoloft to fully evaluate the risk of suicidality in children, adolescents, and adults treated with these medications. Zoloft maker Pfizer Pharmaceuticals added a black box warning to Zoloft’s prescribing information describing the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children and adolescents taking antidepressants.
Zoloft is contraindicated in patients taking MAOIs or pimozide. Serious reactions such as hyperthermia, fluctuations in blood pressure and rigidity of muscles may occur when SSRIs are used in combination with these drugs. In addition, SSRIs and MAOIs should not be used within 14 days of each other.
What is Serotonin Syndrome?
In July 2006, the FDA issued an alert stating that a life-threatening condition called Serotonin Syndrome can occur when medicines called Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs, such as Zoloft) and medicines used to treat migraine headaches known as 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonists (triptans) are taken together. Signs and symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome include:
- loss of coordination
- fast heartbeat
- increased body temperature
- fast changes in blood pressure
- overactive reflexes
Serotonin Syndrome may be more likely to occur when starting or increasing the dose of an SSRI or a triptan.
Who should NOT take Zoloft?
You should not use Zoloft if you are taking another drug to treat depression. You should also not use Zoloft in conjunction with a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI), or if you have stopped taking an MAOI in the last 2 weeks. Taking Zoloft and an MAOI within a close period of time can result in serious (and sometimes fatal) reactions including high body temperature, coma and seizures/convulsions.
Are there withdrawal side effects when stopping the use of Zoloft?
The withdrawal of treatment with many anti-depressants has been associated with troublesome symptoms. Symptoms have been particularly frequent with anti-depressants, like paroxetine, classified as SSRI’s. The most common symptoms of withdrawal have been dizziness, tiredness, tingling of the extremities, nausea, vivid dreams, irritability, and poor mood. Other symptoms have included visual disturbances and headaches.
Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Zoloft?
Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional distress
If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Zoloft, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Zoloft lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.