How Effective Is Sertraline for Depression?

Lee Johnson

Sertraline is a very effective treatment for depression, and the treatment of depression is the main function of the drug. Studies have shown that sertraline is more effective than other competing antidepressant medicines in treating depression, and that most patients have a positive reaction to the drug. Over half of patients who take sertraline for depression go into full remission, meaning that the depression is no longer an issue but may still return in the future. Generally speaking, sertraline is a common first-choice medication for patients suffering from depression because of its effectiveness and the relatively low instance of side effects. Patients suffering from both depression and Alzheimer’s disease may not be suited to treatment with sertraline, however.

Taking sertraline for depression works because it makes more serotonin available to stimulate nerves in the brain.
Taking sertraline for depression works because it makes more serotonin available to stimulate nerves in the brain.

Antidepressant medications are designed specifically to help patients suffering from depression. The most common type of antidepressant drugs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs work by equalizing the level of serotonin within the brain, specifically by preventing the nerve which released the chemical from taking it up again. Neurotransmitters like serotonin are basically chemical messengers, and their levels within the brain are believed to be related to mood. Taking sertraline for depression works because it makes more serotonin available to stimulate other nerves in the brain and therefore equalize the patient’s mood.

Sertraline is widely prescribed for depression because of its efficacy and relative lack of side effects.
Sertraline is widely prescribed for depression because of its efficacy and relative lack of side effects.

Studies conducted into the effects of using sertraline for depression have generally indicated that it performs better than a placebo or any other common antidepressant medications. The main notable difference between sertraline and other SSRIs is that sertraline has a slight effect on the levels of dopamine, another neurotransmitter, as well as serotonin. Research has shown that other SSRI medications such as fluoxetine are less effective than sertraline in treating patients with depression, and therefore the drug should be prescribed to any patients before other treatments are tried. Most patients who take the drug will go into full remission within two months, and around 70 percent will see a significant improvement in their mood.

Research suggests that up to 50% of patients who take sertaline for depression ultimately go into remission.
Research suggests that up to 50% of patients who take sertaline for depression ultimately go into remission.

The main circumstance in which using sertraline for depression isn’t considered to be the best treatment is when the patient is also suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that the drug is no more effective than a placebo in patients with the condition. In addition, side effects are more common in sertraline treatment than with a placebo.

A tendency toward depression may be passed down from parent to child.
A tendency toward depression may be passed down from parent to child.

Overall, side effects will occur in around a quarter of patients who are taking sertraline for depression. Most of these side effects will be minor and very manageable, but occasional serious side effects such as irregular heartbeat and allergic reactions can sometimes occur. Common side effects of sertraline include insomnia, dizziness, and loss of appetite. Giving sertraline to young patients can increase the likelihood of suicidal thinking and behavior. Any serious side effects of sertraline should be discussed with a doctor.

Although commonly prescribed to treat depression, some side effects of taking sertraline can be beneficial in treating premature ejaculation.
Although commonly prescribed to treat depression, some side effects of taking sertraline can be beneficial in treating premature ejaculation.
Sertraline is not considered to be an ideal treatment for depression in Alzheimer's patients, as research indicates it is often ineffective in those patients.
Sertraline is not considered to be an ideal treatment for depression in Alzheimer's patients, as research indicates it is often ineffective in those patients.
The risk of depression increases in women with diabetes.
The risk of depression increases in women with diabetes.
Depression may be a symptom of hypothyroidism.
Depression may be a symptom of hypothyroidism.
Side effects of sertraline may include insomnia.
Side effects of sertraline may include insomnia.
Side effects of sertraline may include dizziness.
Side effects of sertraline may include dizziness.

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Discussion Comments

donasmrs

My personal experience with sertraline was that it made me feel worse before it made me feel better. I think it's a good drug and it works for depression, but it's tough to get used to. I had insomnia, anxiety and more depression when I was first put on it. The same thing occurred when my dose was increased.

ZipLine

Sertraline is working great for me. I really feel that it is a life-saver as an antidepressant. I used to have no motivation or energy before sertraline. Now I feel great, I'm motivated, positive and energetic. The change has been like night and day.

Of course side effects can happen with medications. During the first week, I had a few side effects as well but they went away very quickly. Right now, I have no problems and I'm taking 100mg. The lowest dose is 50mg and I started with this dose. My doctor decided to increase it after a few months. I think 100mg is the right dose for me.

serenesurface

Sertraline may work for most people, but it didn't work too well for me. Or perhaps I should say that I couldn't experience the benefits of the drug because the side effects were too much for me to handle. So I had to quit the medication after only a very short time.

As far as I know, it takes about six months to see the full effects of SSRI group antidepressants, to which sertraline belongs. But I could not take the medication for more than a month because it gave me upset stomach, nausea and terrible migraines. I'm sure it works for many other people though.

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