- Generic name : Sertraline hydrochloride
- Brand names: Zoloft, Lustral, Sertranex, Apo-Sertral, Asentra, Gladem, Serlift, Stimuloton, Xydep, Serlain, Concorz
- Therapeutic class: Antidepressant
- Pharmacologic class: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
- FDA Approved: 1991
- Chemical Formula: C17H17Cl2N
- Pregnancy Category: C
- Habit forming? No
- Originally discovered: 1977, Pfizer USA
by eMedExpert staff
Medical references reviewed: August, 2018
In early 1970s Pfizer's pharmaceutical chemists produced a new series of psychoactive compounds, of which tametraline looked the most promising 20. However, the development of tametraline was soon stopped because of its stimulative properties.
Several years later, in 1977, scientist Kenneth Koe (biochemist) and Willard Welch (chemist) were able to synthesize and test some previously unexplored tametraline derivatives. Then Willard Welch produced stereoisomers of the most prospective candidate, and they tested in vivo by animal behavioral scientist Albert Weissman. The most potent and selective (+)-cis-isomer was developed further and eventually became sertraline.
The discovery of the sertraline molecule was a fortune. At that time during the development of sertraline Pfizer was considering licensing an antidepressant candidate from another company. And the scientists had to overcome the initial Pfizer's intentions to stop sertraline development.
FDA approved uses
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
- Social Phobia (social anxiety)
Off-label & Investigational uses
- seasonal affective disorder (SAD) 6
- general anxiety disorder 10
- bulimia nervosa 14
- binge eating disorder (BED) 19
- premature ejaculation 2
- fibromyalgia 13
- bipolar depression 15
- autistic spectrum disorders 17
- neurocardiogenic syncope 3
- chronic fatigue syndrome 21
- writer's cramp (case report) 16
- alcohol dependence 5
- nocturnal enuresis (bed-wetting) 23
- impulsive aggressive/ violent behavior25
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
A placebo-controlled study has been shown that sertraline is an effective and well-tolerated therapy for SAD. The medication was well tolerated and the most frequent adverse events were nausea, diarrhea, insomnia and dry mouth.
General anxiety disorder
Sertraline appears to be effective and well tolerated in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. This medication demonstrated efficacy for both the psychic and somatic anxiety symptoms of GAD. Also, study have shown that sertraline may be safe and effective for the treatment of GAD in children and adolescents.
Bulimia nervosa (BN)
Studies show that antidepressants are efficacious in eating disorders. Randomized controlled trial 14 confirms that sertraline is well tolerated and effective in reducing binge-eating crises and purging in patients with BN.
Binge eating disorder
Sertraline may be effective and well tolerated in the treatment of binge eating disorder. Sertraline has been shown to reduce the frequency of binges, clinical global severity, and body mass index.
Sertraline appears to be a useful agent in the treatment of premature ejaculation. Studies have shown that sertraline therapy can cause significant prolongation of time to ejaculation.
Sertraline may help diminish pain, morning stiffness and improve sleep in fibromyalgia.
Chronic fatigue syndrome
One RCT studied sertraline in people with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Sertraline "pros" and "cons"
- Appropriate initial choice for people with major depression. Research favours sertraline over other antidepressants in terms of efficacy and acceptability 12.
- The only SSRI approved for the long-term treatment of PTSD.
- Lower risk of weight gain than with citalopram, fluvoxamine, and paroxetine 7.
- Low likelihood of drug interactions at the level of the hepatic cytochrome P450 enzyme system 4. So sertraline has advantages over some other SSRIs in elderly patients and those taking complex multidrug regimens.
- Minimal anticholinergic activity.
- Does not impair vigilance performance 18.
- Maintenance therapy with sertraline is well tolerated and effective for chronic depression 9.
- The most suitable SSRI for nursing mothers. Mothers taking sertraline have very low levels of sertraline in breastmilk. As a result, sertraline is usually not detected in the serum of the infant 22.
- The most linear relationship between the dose and plasma level 24.
- Highest rate of diarrhea than with other SSRIs 8.
Time to clear out of the system
Sertraline has half-life of about 26 hr. It may take 5 to 6 days to clear out of the system.Mechanism of action
Sertraline selectively inhibits the reuptake of serotonin at the presynaptic neuronal membrane, thus increasing the concentration of the serotonin at the synapse and enhancing of serotonergic neuronal transmission. The increased availability of serotonin is considered to improve depression symptoms.
In addition, it has a weak activity in inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine.
Sertraline does not cause significant sedation and does not interfere with psychomotor performance.Weaning off Sertraline
Sertraline has a half-life of about one day. That means that for every day that passes without taking the medication the level in the blood falls by 50%. After one day the level is reduced to 50% of the original level, after two days to 25%, after three days to 12.5%, and so on. When one stops Zoloft too rapidly a withdrawal syndrome may develop. While most people coming off Zoloft have no withdrawal symptoms, some people do have one or more.
- Sertraline (Zoloft®) vs Bupropion (Wellbutrin®)
- Sertraline (Zoloft®) vs Fluoxetine (Prozac®)
- Sertraline vs Venlafaxine
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Published: March 31, 2008
Last updated: January 26, 2017
- After unsuccessful treatment with an SSRI, approximately 25% of patients have a remission of symptoms after switching to another antidepressant 11.
- Zoloft may be effective in the treatment of refractory neurocardiogenic syncope in children and adolescents.
- Sertraline is the only SSRI that noticeably inhibits the reuptake of dopamine. This may explain why it does not raise the serum levels of the hormone prolactin.