As with many antidepressants, a few weeks of regular use will be required before an individual begins to experience the benefits of sertraline (i.e. the generic form of the drug, Zoloft). The actual amount of time required will vary from individual to individual, and it will be a function of the dosage that each individual is taking. Moreover, some users might experience an immediate positive response that quickly fades until the drug builds up a presence in the user’s system. Sertraline is a solid and effective drug to combat depression, but sertraline users will need to be patient to allow the drug to become fully effective. Physicians who prescribe Zoloft or any generic sertraline will typically want to monitor their patients during the initial usage periods to determine if the prescribed dosage is effective and if the drug is having its intended positive effects.
Prescriptions for Zoloft
Physicians usually start their patients on a relatively low sertraline dosage, typically 25 to 50 mg daily. They might eventually increase this dosage up to 200 mg, but low starting dosages are the norm. After a week or two, the typical sertraline user will begin to sense subtle changes in appetite, higher energy levels and better sleep cycles. Sertraline effectiveness will start to top out after three to six weeks of regular usage. At that time, a typical user will see additional positive effects, including improved concentration and mood, higher energy levels, reduced sense of depression and anxiety, and an increased desire to connect with the world around them. These effects are not universal, and a small number of sertraline users will experience adverse effects, including headaches and nausea, restlessness, fatigue, and irritability. Treating physicians who see these symptoms will want to wean an affected patient off of the drug slowly to avoid more severe symptoms.
Zoloft or sertraline can be used regularly for an extended period of time to combat depression or anxiety. It can also be used as a “maintenance” drug when more severe depression symptoms have been managed and corrected with stronger prescription substances. Sertraline and those other drugs are in a class of products known as “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors”, or “SSRI’s”. They work by blocking an individual’s metabolic absorption of the serotonin neurotransmitter. Clinicians have long recognized that depression and low serotonin levels are related. There is no certainty over whether depression is the cause or the result of those low levels. At least until that connection is better understood, physicians will use SSRI’s to help their patients who are suffering from depression.
Timing of Zoloft’s Effects
The lag time between when a person starts using sertraline and when the drug subsequently becomes effective can be a detractor to an individual with extreme depression symptoms. Those individuals will often want an immediate cure for their suffering. Zoloft and sertraline are one of a handful of treatments and therapies that physicians can use. In virtually every case, those physicians will need to impress upon their patients that Zoloft and sertraline can beneficial, but also that they are not a final answer.
Depression and related psychological disorders can present challenges for even the most seasoned psychotherapists. No two individuals who suffer from these disorders will respond to treatments identically. Effective treatment with Zoloft or any other pharmaceutical product requires regular assessment and monitoring of a patient’s condition.
If you have questions about your own experiences with or use of Zoloft or sertraline, please call Sustain Recovery Services at (949) 407-9052. We can provide a confidential consultation to assess your response and reaction to Zoloft, and can recommend alternatives if Zoloft is not right for you.