Can Zoloft (Sertraline) Make You More Emotional?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not Zoloft (sertraline) can make you more emotional or cause related symptoms.

Question

My sons Zoloft dose was increased and he’s been taking it for eight days. He seems to be emotional, Is getting up that quickly, and has been more angry than usual. Is this a side effect of the increase? And will it go away in 3 to 4 weeks?

Asked by Mom On Jul 26, 2018

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Jul 26, 2018

Zoloft (Sertaline) is an antidepressant that can be used in the treatment of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety.  Sometimes when medications are increased in dose for a patient, new side effects can appear that were not present before.


The side effects of agitation, anxiety and just being more emotional are possible side effects of Zoloft (Sertaline).  However, these same side effects could be an indication of the worsening of the condition your son is being treated for.  While some effects of the new dose will be seen after a week, the full response to the medication can take 8 to 12 weeks for some patients.  


In this case, a call to your son’s doctor or other health care provider is warranted here.  Your son’s doctor may feel these changes in behavior are to be expected, may just need to watched, a dose adjustment is needed or an appointment is needed to look further into this change.


It is important to note that the labeling for antidepressants, including Zoloft, specifically warn to watch out for changes in behavior:

"Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. Families and caregivers should be advised of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber." 

Since you have noticed some changes in behavior in your son, be sure to discuss them with the doctor.


Additional Side Effects For Zoloft

Some additional common side effects of Zoloft (Sertaline) are:

  • Insomnia or drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Upset stomach
  • Constipation


If side effects are severe or bothersome, patients should communicate this to their doctor.  Antidepressants, like Zoloft (Sertaline), should not just be stopped abruptly.  There is a chance for withdrawal symptoms or for a worsening in the condition the patient is being treated for.  


In conclusion, new occurrences of side effects are a possibility when the dose of a patient’s medication is increased.  In the case of antidepressants like Zoloft (Sertaline), any concerning change in mood or behavior should be reported to the doctor.  While it may be appropriate to just monitor the situation, in some cases, the doctor may find it necessary to make a change in therapy.  

About the Pharmacist

Ms. Jennifer Hauder RPh

Jennifer Hauder is a registered pharmacist in the state of Illinois. She has over 10 years experience as a pharmacist in the retail and pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) settings. She became a pharmacist due to her interest in healthcare and the opportunity to help others with their healthcare needs. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, three children and two black labs Lucky and Charms.

About Zoloft (Sertraline)

Zoloft (sertraline) (pronounced SER tra leen) is used to treat depression. It may also be used to treat obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-trauma stress, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) or social anxiety. It is classified as a SSRI, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, which work by increasing the availability of serotonin in the brain as well as changing the balance of serotonin receptors over time. Zoloft may be taken without regard to meals in the morning or evening. Like many antidepressants, full effects of the drug may not be realized for 6-8 weeks.

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