Even though it is one of the most widely prescribed antidepressants ever made, Zoloft can cause serious side effects that are only now being understood. Also known by its generic designation, sertraline, this medication is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) prescribed for a variety of mood and behavior disorders. It works by preventing the body from taking up serotonin after it is in the blood. This increases the neurotransmitter’s concentration in the body and can result in an improvement of well-being. However, this also comes with a number of unintended complications.
WHAT ARE THE MOST-DANGEROUS ZOLOFT SIDE EFFECTS?
Serotonin is a critical neurotransmitter, and the body uses it in many ways. Altering its concentration can cause unpredictable complications, some of which persist even after stopping the medication. Some of the most-troubling complications include akathisia, suicide ideation, and major birth defects.
Akathisia is a movement disorder that is marked by a need to be in motion at all times. People suffering from akathisia complain of intense restlessness that forces them to pace, rock or fidget constantly. It can vary considerably in intensity even at its mildest, and it can significantly impact a victim’s ability to focus or maintain a high quality of life. At its most severe, akathisia can force a victim to move around until they become physically exhausted or injured.
SSRI medications are a known risk factor for suicide ideation; the term used to refer to a wish to commit suicide. This risk is highest in children and adolescents and has been proven in multiple studies, including analysis funded by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result of this research, the FDA has mandated a black box warning on all boxes of Zoloft.
Among the worst Zoloft side effects, though, are those that affect unborn children. The FDA has placed sertraline in Pregnancy Category C, which is for drugs that have produced adverse complications in animal fetuses. The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that showed an increased risk of birth defects when women took sertraline during the first trimester. A Danish study found that taking the drug during the final trimester could also result in serious birth defects.
These birth defects include Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF), omphalocele, septal defects, limb reduction defects and anal atresia. ToF’s characterization is four major heart defects, including problems with the aorta and poor separation between the heart’s chambers. Omphalocele is a defect that causes the child’s internal organs to develop outside of the navel and is difficult to correct. Septal defects generally refer to poorly developed hearts that may have perforations. Anal atresia is recognizable by profound intestinal or anal defects that may make it impossible for a child to digest and pass food normally. These defects are severe and require a great deal of medical support to correct, so pregnant women should consider all options before taking Zoloft.