The prevalence of anxiety disorders has increased drastically over the past couple of decades. In fact, the University of Queensland found out that 1 in 13 people suffer from anxiety globally. Different people opt for different treatment options, based on their condition. A widespread treatment for anxiety is the use of medications.
Zoloft has been found to be one of the most effective medications for anxiety. This article discusses how you can obtain maximum benefit from your Zoloft prescription by exploring the best way to introduce it to your routine.
What is Zoloft?
Zoloft is the brand name of the generic antianxiety and antidepressant medicine known as sertraline. It is an FDA-approved medication for different anxiety and depressive disorders, manufactured and distributed by Pfizer.
Zoloft belongs to a group of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Other common SSRI medications that you might have heard of include Prozac, Lexapro, Paxil, etc.
A doctor’s prescription is required to get your hands on Zoloft. It comes in the form of a tablet and is one of the most popular anxiety medications sold on the market. In the US, around 30 million prescriptions are written for Zoloft annually.
How does Zoloft work?
Zoloft, an SSRI drug, functions by preventing the reuptake of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a very important neurotransmitter that performs a vital role in mood regulation. By preventing its reuptake, Zoloft leads to an increased concentration of serotonin in nerve synapsis (gaps between nerves), causing an overall increase in the amount of serotonin in the body. Increased serotonin means improved mood and decreased symptoms of panic and anxiety.
Zoloft is the first choice of psychiatrists for the treatment of anxiety and depressive disorders. Different anxiety disorders that Zoloft helps with include social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic attacks, and panic disorder, etc.
Best Time of Day to Take Zoloft for Anxiety
People who have been prescribed Zoloft often ask what the best time of the day is to take this medication. The answer is that the time of the day doesn’t affect its effectiveness. Zoloft can be taken at any time of the day without worrying.
The important thing to take care of is being consistent with it. Zoloft should be taken around the same hour each day.
With that said, Zoloft affects different people in different ways. It may energize some, and cause drowsiness in others. In a few days, you will be able to notice how your body reacts to it and based on those symptoms, you can decide the best time of the day to take Zoloft for yourself.
If Zoloft makes you feel more awake and causes you trouble falling asleep, you might want to take it in the morning, but if Zoloft makes you feel tired and drowsy, you should consider taking it at night time.
Appropriate dosage of Zoloft for anxiety
Psychiatrists generally prescribe an initial dose of 50mg to be taken orally each day. This dose is then increased to 150 mg or 200 mg daily, depending upon the severity of the patient’s symptoms. The dose should be increased gradually over a one- or two-week period, after proper consultation with a licensed psychiatrist or doctor.
Increasing the dose beyond 200mg per day is extremely harmful and dangerous for the body. Overdosing may lead to severe side effects, including but not limited to tremors, lethargy, and vomiting.
Benefits of Zoloft
As mentioned above, Zoloft increases the serotonin levels in the body, which helps in mood regulation. After 6 to 8 weeks of taking Zoloft, you may start observing positive changes in your mood, stable sleep schedules, restored interest in daily activities, reduced stress and anxiety, and improved appetite. You may also feel calmer and more focused, with fewer disruptive thoughts throughout the day.
In case you do not notice any of the above changes in your body, you should contact your doctor and change the dose or medication accordingly.
Side effects of Zoloft
The side effects of Zoloft must be considered while deciding the best time of the day to take it. Some common side effects of Zoloft include:
- Drowsiness, sleepiness, or dizziness
- Mild chest tightness or pain
- Upset stomach
- Dry mouth
- Numbness of mouth or tongue (caused by the oral solution)
Most people do not experience any side effects if they stick to their recommended dose. Mild side effects usually subside within a week. However, if you keep experiencing any of the above-mentioned side effects, you should contact your doctor immediately.
FAQs for taking Zoloft
What precautions should be taken while taking Zoloft for anxiety?
Before obtaining a prescription for Zoloft, it is important that you inform your doctor about your past medical illnesses, family history of certain diseases, and your past and current medications. The doctor would then check if there is a risk that Zoloft’s side effects may worsen your other symptoms.
Zoloft comes in the form of tablets as well as oral solutions, both of which should be stored in their original container. It should be kept at a cool and dry place, out of children’s reach. It is important that you do not share Zoloft with any other person, even if they show anxiety or depressive symptoms.
Compared with other medications, Zoloft is one of the safest options for pregnant women for the treatment of anxiety. However, it should still only be considered when absolutely required. Pregnant women should consider changes in lifestyle or give talk therapy a chance before resorting to medications.
Should Zoloft be taken with or without food?
Taking Zoloft with or without food does not influence its effectiveness. You can take it any way you like. However, an upset stomach is one of the most common side effects of Zoloft, and taking it with food might help with this issue.
If the oral solution of Zoloft is taken directly, it can lead to numbness on the tongue, even if you drink water or rinse your mouth afterward. It is recommended that the oral solution of Zoloft should be diluted in about 4 ounces of liquid before consuming it to prevent this numbness. Water, lime soda, orange juice, ginger ale, or lemonade can be used for dilution.
Foods that may have a harmful interaction with Zoloft should be avoided. These include foods that have chocolate, caffeine, or alcohol in them. Such foods combined with sertraline may cause side effects like agitation, nausea, tremors, etc.
Should Zoloft be taken separately from other medications?
Some medicines may interact badly with sertraline and may affect its effectiveness and side effects. However, this does not mean that you would have to discontinue their use. Your doctor can properly guide you on how to manage two or more medications simultaneously.
How long does Zoloft take to be effective?
Patience is the key when it comes to the treatment of mental conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Temporary immediate effects can be observed within 4 to 8 hours of taking Zoloft. These effects are different for everyone. It may make some people drowsy, and some very active.
However, more stable effects on the body can be noticed after 6 to 8 weeks. It takes at least 6 weeks for Zoloft to get into your system, build up in your body, and show its full effects.
What to do if I miss one dose of Zoloft?
If you accidentally skip one dose of Zoloft, you should take it as soon as you remember it, except when it is almost time for your next dosage. In this case, you should completely skip that dose, and just take the next one on time.
If you miss a dose, you should never take a double dose the following day. Doubling up the dose is more harmful to your body than missing one dose.
You should try your best to be consistent with your medication by building it up in your routine. Put up an alarm to ring at the same time each day or ask someone to remind you to take your medicine. One effective way to remember is by combining it with an activity that you do daily, for example, having breakfast or going on a walk.
How to stop using Zoloft?
Zoloft should be eliminated from your routine gradually, under the guidance of your doctor or psychiatrist. If you stop taking Zoloft abruptly and suddenly, it may cause extreme withdrawal effects. The amount and frequency of the dosage should be decreased gradually over a couple of weeks.