Does Taking Zoloft Cause Weight Gain?

Zoloft is a popular prescription medication that is commonly used for the treatment of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. It is one of the most popular drugs on the market, but like many antidepressants, Zoloft can potentially cause weight gain. 

Well-known side effects of antidepressants like Zoloft include sexual dysfunction, headache, and nausea, but does taking Zoloft cause weight gain?

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft is a brand name prescription drug that is also sold under the generic name, sertraline. 

Zoloft belongs to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs); SSRIs are a type of antidepressant which are commonly used to treat mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Other SSRI antidepressants include fluoxetine, (Prozac), escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil), and citalopram (Celexa). SSRIs are the only antidepressants that don't increase the risk for high blood pressure.  

Zoloft was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. Since that time, Zoloft has become one of the most popular antidepressants in the United States, with more than 38 million prescriptions for the medication written in 2017. The medication has been in such high demand that Zoloft has actually been put on the FDA’s drug shortage list due to difficulties obtaining the medication. 

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What is Zoloft used to treat?

Zoloft is an antidepressant that is used to treat a number of different common mental health conditions. Mental health conditions treated with Zoloft include: 

  • Major depressive disorder, also known as clinical depression

  • Panic disorder

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)

  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Although Zoloft has a wide variety of applications for the treatment of various mental health conditions, it is most commonly prescribed for the treatment of major depressive disorder (major depression). 

Does taking Zoloft cause weight gain?

Antidepressant drugs have long been associated with weight gain. Older classes of antidepressants, including tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and MAOIs such as phenelzine (Nardil), are well known for causing significant weight gain and other serious side effects. 

Newer antidepressants, including SSRIs and SNRIs, are associated with fewer side effects, but they are still associated with weight gain. Examples of SNRIs include duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor). 

Zoloft has been shown in several studies to cause significant weight gain, as have other antidepressants. The same study revealed that over 55 percent of patients using antidepressants, including Zoloft, gained weight over the course of treatment that lasted between 6 and 36 months. 

The study participants were said to experience clinically significant antidepressant use-related weight gain, as 40 percent of the study participants gained at least 7 percent or more weight compared to their baseline weight at the beginning of the study. Only one medication included in the study, Prozac, was not associated with significant increases in body weight. 

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The results were similarly echoed in other studies, which found that weight gain is a common side effect of the majority of SSRIs and SNRIs. This may be associated with a slightly increased appetite or cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods usually regulated by serotonin that may lead to overeating and extra pounds over time. 

What side effects are associated with Zoloft?

Zoloft is associated with common adverse potential side effects and rare but potentially serious side effects. Common side effects associated with Zoloft include:

  • Constipation

  • Nausea

  • Headache

  • Diarrhea 

  • Dizziness

  • Loss of appetite

  • Insomnia

  • Upset stomach

  • Drowsiness

  • Decreased libido

Rare but serious side effects associated with Zoloft include:

  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

  • Increased risk of bleeding

  • Manic episodes

  • Seizures

  • Low sodium blood levels

  • Angle-closure glaucoma

  • Serotonin syndrome

This may not be a complete list of side effects. Consult a healthcare provider for other possible side effects associated with Zoloft. 

Summary

Taking Zoloft can cause weight gain, as is the case with most other antidepressant medications. Studies show that Zoloft is likely to cause clinically significant weight gain. There are other side effects associated with Zoloft in addition to weight changes, including sexual dysfunction, nausea, headache, and diarrhea. 

Zoloft is one of the most popular antidepressants on the market and is in such high demand that the medication is occasionally in short supply. Wellness practices such as increased physical activity could help with weight loss if you see significant changes in your weight while taking Zoloft. Seek medical advice to see if Zoloft is right for you. 

Patients who choose to take Zoloft to treat their mental health conditions can save on both the brand name and generic forms of the medication by using a pharmacy discount card from USA Rx.

Sources: 

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-1/sertraline-oral/details 

https://www.healthline.com/health/sertraline-oral-tablet 

https://www.statista.com/statistics/781658/sertraline-hydrochloride-prescriptions-number-in-the-us/ 

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25467076/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4850471/

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