How long for an increased dose of Zoloft to work?
It may take several weeks or longer for an increased dose of Zoloft (sertraline) to take effect. Only use Zoloft at the dosage prescribed by your doctor. Do not increase your dose without first speaking with your doctor. Make sure to tell your doctor if you do not have any improvements after your dose adjustment or if you if are having uncomfortable side effects.
Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) approved to treat many conditions such as:
- Depression (Major depressive disorder or MDD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder (PD)
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
It takes about one week for levels of Zoloft to build to a steady level in your body, and then about 3 to 6 more weeks for a full therapeutic effect for most uses. It’s best to try to take your Zoloft dose at the same time each day to ensure you maintain steady blood levels in your body.
How long it takes Zoloft to work after a dose increase will vary between people and why the medicine is prescribed. It may also take longer for a therapeutic effect due to unique factors such as your age, weight, body fluid, other medicines you take, how well your kidneys or liver work, or other health issues you may have. Check with your doctor to determine how quickly you may see benefits.
Why are doses of Zoloft increased?
At first, your doctor may suggest you begin Zoloft at a lower dose, and increase it after one to four weeks. This can help to prevent side effects while your body adjusts to the new medicine. You may still feel positive benefits from your treatment during this time period, although it may take 4 to 6 weeks at the full dose. It may take longer for the full effects to occur in people with OCD or PTSD.
Also, for some patients, an increased dose may be needed after a period of time if the medicine stops working as well and the initial dose was too low.
Zoloft is available as a brand name product and as a generic option known as sertraline. The generic product is typically very affordable in the US and works as well as the brand name drug. If you have questions about affording Zoloft, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
Zoloft comes as an oral tablet (25 mg, 50 mg,100 mg) and as an oral liquid (20 mg / mL), which gives your doctor many options for dosing. Generic 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg sertraline tablets are also on the market. A generic 150 and 200 mg capsule form is also available to treat patients with OCD or depression, but lower doses are used to initially start treatment.
Can I just stop taking Zoloft?
Do not discontinue treatment without first talking to your doctor. It’s important you stop treatment slowly to help prevent uncomfortable side effects like dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea or trouble sleeping.
If you are exhibiting symptoms of depression or having thoughts of suicide, contact a medical professional immediately.
Suicide Hotline: A confidential suicide hotline can be accessed in the U.S. by calling: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Trained, skilled professionals are available to to confidentially discuss any matter.
This is not all the information you need to know about Zoloft (sertraline) for safe and effective use and does not take the place of your doctor’s directions. Review the full product information and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.
- Lewis G, Duffy L, Ades A, et al. The clinical effectiveness of sertraline in primary care and the role of depression severity and duration (PANDA): a pragmatic, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomised trial. Lancet Psychiatry. 2019 Nov;6(11):903-914. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30366-9. Epub 2019 Sep 19. PMID: 31543474
- Rush AJ (author) Patient education: Depression treatment options for adults (Beyond the Basics). Up to Date. Oct. 21, 2021. Accessed zJune 30, 2022 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/depression-treatment-options-for-adults-beyond-the-basics
- Depression. Drugs.com. Accessed Jan. 13, 2022 at https://www.drugs.com/depression.html
- Up to Date. Sertraline drug information. Accessed Jan. 13, 2022 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/sertraline-drug-information
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