Zoloft Side Effects

Zoloft side effects include suicidal thoughts and sexual dysfunction. Recent studies also suggest that pregnant women who use antidepressants like Zoloft may be more likely to have a baby with birth defects or autism.

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft is an SSRI antidepressant introduced by Pfizer, Inc. in 1990. It was marketed as a safer alternative to competitors like Prozac, and by 2005 was the  most popular antidepressant in the U.S. That year, its $3.6 billion in sales made Zoloft the country’s sixth-most prescribed brand-name medication.

SSRIs like Zoloft work by controlling the brain’s level of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that is believed to affect mood, sleep and learning.  Zoloft is indicated to treat:

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder.

Serious Zoloft Complications

Individuals using Zoloft should seek medical help immediately if they experience any of the following side effects:

  • Symptoms of serotonin syndrome/toxicity rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of coordination, severe dizziness, severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, twitching muscles, unexplained fever, unusual agitation/restlessness)
  • Painful or prolonged erection lasting 4 or more hours
  • Black/bloody stools
  • Vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Eye pain/swelling/redness, vision changes (such as seeing rainbows around lights at night, blurred vision)
  • Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) requires the labels of all antidepressants, including Zoloft, to include a boxed warning regarding a possible increased risk of suicidal behavior during the early stages of treatment, especially children.

Less serious Zoloft side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness, dizziness, tired feeling
  • Mild nausea, stomach pain, upset stomach, constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in appetite or weight;
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm

Zoloft and Pregnancy

The FDA has placed Zoloft in pregnancy category C, which indicates that animal studies have shown some harm to the fetus, but there have been no adequate studies in humans. However, recent research has suggested that expectant mothers who take SSRI antidepressants after their 20th week are more likely to have a baby with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). One other study also found that Zoloft could double the risk that a child will be born with a heart defect. Other studies have linked the use of SSRIs during pregnancy to anencephaly and oral clefts.

A study published in 2016 also found that children exposed to SSRIs during the last two trimesters of pregnancy were 117% more likely to be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.

Legal Help for Those Harmed by Zoloft

Bernstein Liebhard LLP offers free legal reviews to alleged victims of Zoloft side effects. To learn more, please call (888) 994-5118 to discuss your case with one of our attorneys.

  1. FDA (2008) “Zoloft Prescribing Information” http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/019839s070,020990s032lbl.pdf
  2. CNN (2006) “Who stands to gain when Zoloft goes generic?” http://money.cnn.com/2006/04/04/news/companies/antidepressants/
  3. FDA (2007) “FDA Drug Safety Communication: Antidepressant Use in Children, Adolescents, and Adults.” http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/ucm096273.htm
  4. FDA (2006) “FDA Public Health Advisory: Treatment Challenges of Depression in Pregnancy and the Possibility of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension in Newborns.” http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm124348.htm
  5. BMJ (2009) “Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors in Pregnancy and Congenital Malformations: Population Based Cohort Study” http://www.bmj.com/content/339/bmj.b3569
  6. WebMD (2009) “Study Shows Small Risk of Heart Defect From SSRIs Taken During Pregnancy” http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20090924/antidepressants-linked-to-birth-defect
  7. JAMA Pediatrics (2016) “Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy and the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children” http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2476187
Last Modified: July 8, 2016

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