Zoloft side effects take many forms, and many of them are life changing or even fatal. Also called sertraline, its generic name, this medication has been the second most-prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) since its production. It is one of Pfizer’s most-profitable drugs, and even though it has been on the market for more than 20 years, doctors still don’t know the full extent of its risk profile. What researchers do know, though, is that sertraline can cause a number of severe complications that require significant medical support to treat.
Sertraline works by blocking the uptake of serotonin by the body after releasing it into the blood. Serotonin is an imperative neurotransmitter and is in nearly every part of the body. It’s understandable, then, why altering its concentration can cause profound changes in a person. For example, around 2/3 of men suffer from some form of sexual dysfunction while taking sertraline. Many of these men still suffered from sexual dysfunction even after they stopped taking the drug.
Other Zoloft side effects are much worse. Akathisia is a motor disorder that compels a person to remain in motion at all times. In severe cases, akathisia can force people to exhaust or injure themselves because they physically cannot stop. In nearly all instances this condition can greatly reduce a person’s quality of life.
Zoloft is the reason for a number of major birth defects, which is why the Food and Drug Administration has placed it in Pregnancy Category C. Among the defects sertraline can cause are significant heart defects, visceral organ defects, intestinal defects and anal defects. In nearly all instances, these birth defects warrant prolonged medical support and will result in permanent restrictions on the child’s life.
SSRIs are also known to cause suicide ideation in patients, and Zoloft is no different. Among Zoloft side effects, suicide ideation has received the most attention in the media, probably due to its greater frequency in children and adolescents. To protect consumers, the FDA has mandated black box warnings on all sertraline packaging.