Does sertraline cause sleepiness

Side effects of sertraline - NHS

Like all medicines, sertraline can cause side effects in some people, but many people have no side effects or only minor ones.

Some of the common side effects of sertraline will gradually improve as your body gets used to it.

Some people who take sertraline for panic attacks find their anxiety gets worse during the first few weeks of treatment. This usually wears off after a few weeks, but speak to your doctor if it bothers you. A lower dose may help reduce your symptoms.

Common side effects

These common side effects of sertraline happen in more than 1 in 100 people. There are things you can do to help cope with them:

Feeling sick (nausea)

Try taking sertraline with or after food. It may also help if you avoid rich or spicy food.


Make sure you rest and drink plenty of fluids. It's best not to drink too much alcohol. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a painkiller. Headaches should usually go away after the first week of taking sertraline. Talk to your doctor if they last longer than a week or are severe.

Being unable to sleep

Take sertraline first thing in the morning.

Feeling sleepy

Take sertraline in the evening and cut down the amount of alcohol you drink. Do not drive, ride a bike or use tools or machinery if you're feeling sleepy. If this does not help, talk to your doctor.


Drink plenty of water or other fluids to avoid dehydration. Signs of dehydration include peeing less than usual and having dark, strong-smelling pee. Do not take any other medicines to treat diarrhoea without speaking to a pharmacist or doctor.

If you take contraceptive pills and you have severe diarrhoea for more than 24 hours, your contraception may not protect you from pregnancy. Check the pill packet for advice.

Dry mouth

Chew sugar-free gum or suck sugar-free sweets.

Feeling dizzy

If sertraline makes you feel dizzy, stop what you're doing and sit or lie down until you feel better.

Feeling tired or weak

If sertraline makes you feel tired or weak, stop what you're doing and sit or lie down until you feel better. Do not drive, ride a bike or use tools or machinery if you're feeling tired.

It's best not to drink alcohol as it will make you feel worse. If these symptoms do not go away after 1 or 2 weeks, ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice.

Keep taking the medicine, but speak to a doctor or pharmacist if the advice on how to cope does not help and a side effect is still bothering you or does not go away.

Serious side effects

It happens rarely (in less than 1 in 100 people), but some people may have serious side effects when taking sertraline.

Book an appointment with your doctor if you get:

  • changes in your periods, such as heavy bleeding, spotting or bleeding between periods
  • weight gain or weight loss without trying

Call a doctor or contact 111 now if:

  • you have feelings of overwhelming happiness (euphoria), excessive enthusiasm or excitement, or a feeling of restlessness that means you cannot sit or stand still
  • the whites of your eyes turn yellow, or your skin turns yellow (this may be less noticeable on brown or black skin) – these can be signs of liver problems
  • you cough up blood or have blood in your pee
  • you have black or red poo or blood in your vomit – these can be signs of bleeding from the gut
  • you are bleeding from the gums, or get bruises that appear without a reason or that get bigger

Go to 111. or call 111.

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if you:

  • get chest pain or pressure, or shortness of breath
  • get headaches, have trouble focusing, have memory problems, cannot think clearly, have weakness, have a seizure or fit, or lose your balance – these can be signs of low sodium levels
  • have thoughts about harming yourself or ending your life
  • get severe dizziness or pass out
  • get painful erections that last longer than 2 hours – this may happen even when you're not having sex
  • get any heavy bleeding or bleeding that you cannot stop, such as cuts or nosebleeds that do not stop within 10 minutes

Serious allergic reaction

In rare cases, it's possible to have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to sertraline.

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:

  • you get a skin rash that may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
  • you're wheezing
  • you get tightness in the chest or throat
  • you have trouble breathing or talking
  • your mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling

You could be having a serious allergic reaction and may need immediate treatment in hospital.

Long-term side effects

A few people may get sexual side effects, such as problems getting an erection or a lower sex drive. In some cases these can continue even after stopping the medicine. Speak to your doctor if you are worried.

Taking sertraline for more than a year has also been linked to a small increased risk of getting diabetes. You'll be regularly checked for this.

Other side effects

These are not all the side effects of sertraline. For a full list, see the leaflet inside your medicine packet.


You can report any suspected side effect using the Yellow Card safety scheme.

Visit Yellow Card for further information.

Page last reviewed: 2 February 2022
Next review due: 2 February 2025

Sertraline Side Effects: A Complete Guide

With tens of millions of prescriptions in the United States alone, sertraline is an FDA-approved and widely used SSRI medication on the market. 

Safe and effective, sertraline has been used since the 1990s by tens of millions of people every year without major side effects.  

Sertraline (often prescribed under the brand name Zoloft) is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of many different mental health disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder major depressive disorder (MDD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). 

However, like all SSRIs, sertraline side effects do exist, and you should be aware of them before you consider treatment.

Most sertraline side effects occur in the first few weeks of treatment and tend to disappear over time. However, some can last for several months or occur at any time while using the medication.

Although rare, it’s possible to experience several more serious side effects if you use sertraline to treat depression, anxiety or any other condition.   

Below, we’ve listed the common and uncommon side effects of sertraline. We’ve also linked to relevant studies and other data to provide some more context on how common or uncommon these side effects really are.

Most Common Side Effects of Sertraline

Sertraline belongs to a class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. 

Like other SSRIs, it can cause a range of mild side effects that typically occur during the first few weeks of treatment. 

We’ve listed these common side effects below.

Fatigue and Tiredness

Fatigue and drowsiness are two of the most common side effects of sertraline (Zoloft), as well as several other SSRIs.

If you’re using sertraline to treat depression, fatigue and tiredness from the medication can also be compounded by the effects of depression on your mood. 

It’s very common to feel a little low in energy during the first few weeks of taking sertraline, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Dealing with fatigue and tiredness from sertraline can be a frustrating experience, but it usually passes. 

As the medication reaches a steady state in your body, you’ll generally start to notice a less pronounced effect on your energy levels before this side effect fades completely.

If you have persistent fatigue or drowsiness after starting sertraline that doesn’t disappear within one month, it’s best to contact your healthcare provider.

Sexual Side Effects

Sertraline and other SSRIs can cause a variety of sexual side effects, from difficulty achieving orgasm such as decreased sex drive.

Sexual side effects are some of the most common side effects of sertraline and other commonly used SSRI medications.

According to a review of certain studies, between 40 percent and 65 percent of people who take SSRIs experience some side effects related to sexual desire and performance.

It’s worth noting the research did find that of the SSRIs, sertraline has one of the lower likelihoods of affecting sexual function.

These side effects can affect both men and women. In men, one of the most common side effects is a higher level of difficulty achieving orgasm and ejaculating. 

Some men also experience a lower general level of interest in sex after using SSRIs such as sertraline.

In women, the most common sexual side effect of sertraline and other SSRIs is a lower level of interest in sex.

Like many other sertraline effects, sexual side effects can often fade over time as your body gets used to the medication. 

If persistent, sexual side effects can be treated by adjusting your dosage or switching to a different medication.

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Sleep Disturbances

Insomnia and a general reduction in sleep quality are both common side effects of SSRIs and other antidepressants. 

People who use sertraline may find that they now have trouble sleeping, or find themselves waking up frequently throughout the night. Sertraline can also cause you to be more sleepy than usual.

While it doesn’t list the effects of sertraline specifically, a 2017 review of research literature notes that it’s common for antidepressants to affect sleep. 

This review found that the prevalence of insomnia attributed to treatment with SSRIs was 17 percent compared to nine percent taking placebo.  

Like many other SSRI side effects, the study states that these effects are most common in the short term.

There are several ways to deal with sleep disturbances from sertraline. The first is to wait it out, as this side effect tends to fade away as the medication reaches a steady-state in your body. 

It’s also possible to take sertraline in the morning to reduce its concentration by the time you sleep.

Finally, it’s important to avoid caffeine and other stimulants that could prevent you from falling asleep in a normal amount of time. 

Try to only consume coffee, caffeinated soda and energy drinks before noon to avoid them affecting you when it’s time to fall asleep.


It’s not uncommon to feel dizzy during the first few weeks of using sertraline. Like other common side effects, this is thought to be a result of your body adjusting to the medication. 

Dizziness is a short-term side effect of sertraline that usually doesn’t persist for longer than two to four weeks.

Interestingly, sertraline is linked to lower levels of dizziness in the long term in studies, indicating that it could help you feel less dizzy once the medication stabilizes in your body.

If you notice frequent dizziness or lightheadedness after using sertraline that lasts for more than four weeks, it’s important to contact your healthcare professional to discuss the potential of low blood pressure caused by your sertraline dose. 

This side effect, like most, may be managed by using a lower dose of the medication. However, if this side effect doesn't get better after a few weeks, speak to your healthcare provider.

Weight Gain or Weight Loss

Sertraline and other SSRIs are associated with weight fluctuation, although not all people who take these medications will gain or lose weight.

Most of the weight gain caused by antidepressants is mild, with a 2017 study from Australia by BMJ Open finding that, on average, high-dosage antidepressant users gain 0. 28kg (about 0.6lbs) per year.

According to a 2018 BMJ UK study, researchers concluded that antidepressants may contribute to a long-term increased risk of weight gain.

Another study by Nutrients found that antidepressant use is associated with a higher total calorie intake.

However, a known side effect of sertraline (discussed more in-depth below) is, in fact, loss of appetite. 

There’s also some research out there to suggest that — at least in the short term — sertraline may actually cause you to lose weight. Especially if you’re diabetic. 

In one smaller study from Primary Care Diabetes involving 33 patients with type 2 diabetes, for instance, researchers found at the end of the 12-week observation period a decrease in overall weight, body mass index and waist circumference, overall. 

If you’re concerned about weight gain or weight loss from sertraline, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider. 

Most of the time, you can avoid changes in your body mass and composition by monitoring your food intake and maintaining your pre-treatment eating habits while using sertraline.

Loss of Appetite

Sertraline could potentially cause you to have a reduced appetite.

Like other side effects of sertraline, this is usually temporary and should wear off after the first few weeks on the medication. 

The key to avoiding weight loss from sertraline is to talk to your healthcare provider and monitor your food intake. 

By staying consistent with your eating habits and activity level, it’s easier to maintain your body mass and composition while using sertraline or any other SSRI.


Diarrhea is a common side effect of sertraline.In comparative studies of sertraline and other SSRIs, about 14 percent of people who were prescribed sertraline at a typical dose experienced diarrhea compared to those on other SSRIs.

Like many other Zoloft side effects, diarrhea usually occurs in the first few weeks of treatment. 

Most of the time, diarrhea becomes less frequent and disappears completely as your body adjusts to the medication and your dosage of sertraline reaches a steady state.

If you have persistent diarrhea from sertraline, the best approach is to contact your healthcare provider. 

This side effect, like others, may often be managed by reducing your dosage of sertraline or switching to a different antidepressant, such as paroxetine or fluoxetine, which are both less likely to cause diarrhea.


It’s possible that you may experience headaches after you start using sertraline, particularly in the first few weeks of treatment. 

Like other common side effects, Zoloft headaches usually disappear after two to four weeks of use as the medication stabilizes in your body.  

The link between sertraline and headaches is a complicated one. 

While headaches have been reported to be a side effect of taking sertraline, according to Journal of the Association of Physicians of India (in a study of 50 people), sertraline has been shown to be effective in treating chronic tension-type headaches.

While some painkillers can interact with sertraline, it’s safe to take Tylenol® if you experience headaches after starting sertraline.  

Be aware that Tylenol may reduce the effectiveness of sertraline in your body.  It is important to discuss what medications you’re taking with your healthcare provider before you start on sertraline.

If you have persistent or severe headaches from sertraline that don’t improve over time, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider. 

Simple changes to your sertraline usage such as taking your medication at a different time of day or reducing your dosage can help to limit or get rid of headaches.

Dry Mouth

Finally, dry mouth is a common side effect of sertraline and other antidepressants. While there’s no clear reason for this, researchers believe that the effects of sertraline and other SSRIs on the brain can also affect your gastrointestinal system.

According to the FDA, 14 percent of people prescribed antidepressants experience some level of dry mouth compared to 9% in placebo. 

Although SSRIs like sertraline are less likely to cause dry mouth than other antidepressants  (in one study published in Oral Diseases: Leading in Oral, Maxillofacial, Head and Neck Medicine, it affected about 14 percent of people), it’s still fairly common.

There are several ways to treat dry mouth from sertraline. Like other side effects, dry mouth is often temporary, meaning it should go away on its own over the course of several weeks as the medication reaches a steady state in your body.

It’s also possible to reduce the severity of dry mouth by avoiding caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, any spicy foods and other substances that can cause dehydration. 

Sugar-free gums can also help to stimulate saliva production and keep your mouth and throat properly hydrated. 

It is also recommended that you avoid using mouthwash products that contain alcohol as they can make the problem worse.

Finally, if you have persistent dry mouth from sertraline, you should talk to your healthcare provider. 

Just like many other side effects of sertraline, dry mouth can often be avoided by adjusting your dosage or switching to a different SSRI medication.

Serious Side Effects of Sertraline

People who use sertraline may not experience any side effects, or may only experience a few of the mild side effects listed above.  

However, it’s also possible for sertraline to cause a variety of potentially serious adverse effects in some users.

Below, we’ve listed some of the serious potential side effects of sertraline. If you experience any of these side effects, you should contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible for medical assistance.

Fainting and Extreme Dizziness

According to the FDA, fainting is not frequently reported, but is still a potential side effect of sertraline. 

A small percentage of people who use sertraline may also experience severe dizziness and lightheadedness. 

If you feel faint, weak or severely dizzy, or feel differences in your heart rate after taking sertraline, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.

Chest Pain

A small number of people who use sertraline have reported severe chest pain after taking the medication.

If you experience severe or unusual chest pain after taking sertraline, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.

It’s important to point out that this side effect is very rare. Overall, sertraline is a safe and effective drug that’s widely used successfully, including by people with certain heart problems that make other SSRIs unsuitable.

Persistent Bleeding

Sertraline is one of several SSRIs that may increase the chance of bleeding.

This means that if you injure yourself in a way that results in bleeding while using sertraline, your body might have difficulty forming a normal blood clot.

Clotting issues from sertraline use can potentially occur as a result of taking sertraline together with other medications, such as blood thinners. 

If you use other medications that could affect your clotting ability, it’s essential that you inform your healthcare provider before considering sertraline.

Suicidal Thoughts

Sertraline and several other widely used antidepressants can increase your risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts. 

The risk of suicidal thoughts appears to be the highest in young adults under the age of 25 who take antidepressants.

If you experience suicidal thoughts after you start using sertraline, it’s important to seek medical assistance as soon as possible.

Allergic Reaction 

Like any other medication, it is important to seek immediate medical advice if you experience an allergic reaction to sertraline. 

Warning signs of an allergic reaction include hives, swollen face, sore throat, and anaphylaxis. 

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Learn More About Sertraline

While many of the side effects listed above can look alarming, it’s worth remembering that most people who use sertraline either experience no side effects at all, or light, transient side effects that disappear as they become accustomed to the medication. 

You should not take sertraline if you have glaucoma, history of heart problems, or are breastfeeding.

For the vast majority of users, it’s a safe, effective and important medication that provides real benefits.

However, in addition to the side effects listed above, sertraline can potentially have drug interactions with a wide range of other medications and substances, like combining alcohol and sertraline, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, or even St. John's Wort.

The use of sertraline with other SSRIs could lead to an increased risk of a life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome. Our sertraline guide goes into more detail on sertraline interactions. 

Be sure to discuss all drugs you are taking, including over-the-counter medicine, with your healthcare professional before taking sertraline.

Do not stop taking sertraline without seeking medical advice. 

Abruptly ending sertraline before your next dose could lead to serious withdrawal symptoms, including eye pain, nausea, headaches, irritability, nightmares, or suicidal thoughts.

Read 25 more facts about sertraline here.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

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SIDE EFFECTS OF ANTIDEPRESSANTS (SSRIs) | Clinical Center "Psychiatry - Narcology"

Currently, the most commonly prescribed antidepressants are drugs from the group of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). For most, these medicines are safe and effective, but like all medicines, they can cause side effects. According to statistics, about 40% of patients taking antidepressants also experience side effects, in about 25% of cases they are quite unpleasant. Two of the most common side effects (sexual dysfunction and weight gain) are often the reason people stop taking these medications.

Listed below are the 7 most common side effects of antidepressants that patients should be aware of:


When medications for depression are first prescribed, the most common physical symptoms are headache, nausea, joint and muscle pain, rash, and diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and temporary. The results of clinical studies have shown that nausea and headache are the most common. As a rule, these symptoms are adaptive in nature, as a rule, they pass on their own, without requiring discontinuation of the drug.


Many patients, when they are first prescribed antidepressants, report problems with sleep: difficulty falling asleep or light sleep with frequent awakenings. Also, against the background of taking SSRIs, nightmares and sleepwalking can be observed. Studies have shown that about 22% of people taking antidepressants experience sleep problems.


Sleepiness during the day may be the result of a poor night's sleep, or the direct sedative effect of the antidepressant. In the case when it is a sedative effect, the problem can be solved by transferring the drug to the evening.


Due to the fact that people who are prone to depression also often suffer from migraines, you need to be careful when taking medicines in combination. Medicines; used to treat migraines, triptans, like SSRIs, increase serotonin levels in the brain. If these drugs are used together, it can lead to the development of serotonin syndrome, which manifests itself in the form of headache, heart palpitations, hot flashes. Be sure to discuss with your doctor how to avoid the development of serotonin syndrome if you are prescribed medications of both groups.


Weight gain is one of the late side effects of antidepressants and is one of the most common reasons for refusing to continue taking or switching medications. A good prevention of this side effect is moderate physical activity (for example, a 30-minute workout every other day). The likelihood of weight gain also depends on the drug that is prescribed. According to clinical trials, while taking paroxetine, about 25% of patients gain 7% of their weight.


The risk of suicide while taking antidepressants is currently under extensive investigation. According to most studies, compared with placebo, taking SSRIs or other antidepressants doubles the likelihood of suicidal thoughts. The overall risk of this side effect when taking antidepressants in adolescents and adults is 2 to 4 percent. One of the reasons for suicide while taking antidepressants is that medications increase activity, giving energy for the implementation of a suicidal plan.

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