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.
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.
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.
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.
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.