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Medical and Pharmacy Editor:

Brand Name: Zoloft

Generic Name: sertraline

Drug Class: Antidepressants, SSRIs

What Is Sertraline (Zoloft) and How Does It Work?

Sertraline (Zoloft) is a prescription medication indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder (depression) in adults. This medication is also a common prescription for the treatment of additional mental health disorders and conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) PMDD and social anxiety disorder.

Commonly called "Zoloft," this medication is falls under a category of medications called SSRIs. SSRIs are medications that are believed to restore serotonin in the brain. Depression is believed to be caused by low levels of serotonin. Restoring this hormone in the brain is is thought to improve symptoms of depression.

ZOLOFT and other antidepressant medicines may cause serious side effects. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms, or call 911 if there is an emergency.

Zoloft is available by prescription only.

Sertraline is available under the following different brand names: Zoloft

Dosages of Sertraline Should Be Given As Follows:

Dosage Forms & Strengths


  • 25mg
  • 50mg
  • 100mg

Oral concentrate

  • 20mg/mL

Dosage Considerations – Should be Given as Follows:

Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder (Depression)

  • Initial: 50 mg orally once/day
  • May increase by 25 mg at 1-week intervals; not to exceed 200 mg once/day
  • Geriatric: 25 mg orally once/day initially; may increase by 25 mg every 2-3 days; not to exceed 200 mg once/day
  • Alzheimer dementia related depression: Start at 12.5 mg/day and titrate every 1-2 weeks to response; not to exceed 150-200 mg

Treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • Initial: 50 mg orally once/day
  • May increase by 25 mg at 1-week intervals; not to exceed 200 mg once/day
  • Less than 6 years: Safety and efficacy not established
  • 6-12 years: 25 mg orally once/day initially
  • 12-17 years: 50 mg orally once/day initially; May increase by 50 mg once/day at 1-week intervals to no more than 200 mg once/day give once at bedtime if somnolence experienced

Treatment for Panic Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • Initial: 25 mg orally once/day

Treatment for Premenstrual Syndrome(Off-label)

  • 0.25 mg orally once every 6-12 hours; initiate treatment on day 16-18 of menses (not to exceed 3-4 mg/day); taper dose over 2-3 days once menses occurs
  • May increase by 25 mg at 1-week intervals; not to exceed 200 mg once/day

Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Initial: 25 mg orally once/day
  • May increase by 25 mg at 1-week intervals not to exceed 200 mg once/day

Treatment for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

  • Initial: 50 mg orally once/day given continuously throughout menstrual cycle or given during luteal phase only
  • May increase by 50 mg at the onset of each new menstrual cycle; no more than 150 mg once/day when administered continuously or 100 mg once/day when administered during luteal phase only

Treatment for Pruritus (Itching) (Off-label)

  • 25-100 mg daily for up to 5 years; 75-100 mg doses found to be most effective

Dosing Modifications

Renal impairment: Dose adjustment not necessary

Hepatic impairment

  • Mild (Child-Pugh 5-6): Decrease recommended starting dose and therapeutic dose by 50%
  • Moderate-to-severe (Child-Pugh 7-15): Not recommended; sertraline is extensively metabolized, and the effects in patients with moderate and severe hepatic impairment have not been studied

The elderly are prone to SSRI/SNRI-induced hyponatremia; monitor closely

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/28/2017

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