In the US, antidepressants are used by around 13 percent of adults, with more women using antidepressant medications than men. Usage statistics reveal that use of antidepressants increased with age. Without exception, medications have undesirable effects, and in the case of antidepressants, there is a clear need to understand and mitigate the side effects. This is primarily because usage statistics indicate high usage among the elderly. Here is a detailed look at the side effects of sertraline and simple effective measures to counter the same.
Overview of SSRI antidepressant and side effects of sertraline
Belonging to the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, Sertraline delivers desired outcomes after a few weeks of administration of the medication. One of the reasons for the popularity of the formulation is the relatively increased safety and tolerability, when compared with other antidepressants. Typically, antidepressants present certain side effects, for instance, there could be an impact on vision, or individuals may feel drowsy or dizzy. While there are side effects of sertraline, the effects are relatively lesser as the mediation, as mentioned above, has better tolerability and increased safety.
Mechanism of action and side effects of sertraline
Before we look at the side effects of sertraline, here is a quick look at the mechanism of action of the formulation. This will help understand the reasons behind the side effects or undesirable effects of the medication. The formulation is known to work by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin. Consequently, there is an increase of serotonin and this results in various functional changes that are attributed to the increase in serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical in the brain that Is responsible for various actions, including sleep, memory, learning and rewards. The primary antidepressant properties of the medication are attributed to the changes brought about by increased serotonin levels.
For instance, various disorders are attributed to incorrect or unregulated levels of serotonin. By regulating the levels of serotonin, various positive outcomes are achieved in tackling depression and other related disorders. The medication is used to treat various conditions that include mood disorders, depression, anxiety, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and premenstrual disorders. In addition to the above, the off label uses of the medication include headache and sexual dysfunction. It is important to understand that the medication is to be taken only after consultations with a specialist.
Ideal methods of taking the medication to avoid side effects of sertraline
Sertraline is available in tablet form as well as liquid formulations. the tablets are typically available in 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg formulations. The liquid form is generally taken as a proportion of 20 milligrams for every liter of liquid. The dosages are ideally taken once every day either in the morning or in the evening. Women on the medication for premenstrual dysphoric disorder may sometimes be recommended to take the medication on specific days and not daily. The above methods will help prevent side effects of sertraline that sometimes manifest due to incorrect dosage or improper practices.
Recommended practices for avoiding side effects of sertraline
Patients on the medication are advised to follow certain recommended practices to avoid side effects of sertraline. For instance, the medication is to be taken every day at the same time; this will ensure that the best outcomes are achieved. it can be taken either with food or without food, and individuals are cautioned against taking a double dose to make up for the missed dosage. The recommended liquid for use along with the medication includes plain water, lemonade, and orange juice. Some patients may also be permitted to take the liquid form along with lemon soda or ginger ale.
The actual dosage that is recommended for patients will depend on various factors, including the weight of the patient and the age of the patient. The dose is gradually increased to ensure that there are no undesirable effects. Patients are more likely to actually experience results or outcomes after a few weeks of commencing the medication. Abrupt discontinuation of the medication is not to be practiced as this may result in unwanted side effects.
Side effects of sertraline : drug interactions
Some of the side effects of sertraline are attributed to the drug interactions of the medication with other prescription drugs and over the counter medications. Some of the commonly reported drug interactions include a decrease in potency of medications, while in some instances it could trigger an increase in the potency of medications. Patients on MOAIs, acronym for monoamine oxidase inhibitors are advised to have a clear gap of two weeks between the two medications. As a result of the increased concentration levels of serotonin, the possibility of individuals ending up with serotonin syndrome cannot be ruled out, as a result of drug interactions.
Commonly reported symptoms of serotonin syndrome as a result of drug interactions include a possible loss of muscular coordination, and agitated conduct. To avoid the side effects of sertraline from drug interactions, patients are advised to stay off certain medications. For instance, certain opioid pain killers in immediate release formulation, and antibiotics used for treating gram positive bacteria. Additionally, individuals on other antidepressant medications are also advised to seek medical advice to prevent interactions. Certain treatment options for headaches may also cause drug interactions. Other precautions for patients include medications such as blood thinners, and pain killers that may interact and result in bleeding. Finally, patients on antipsychotic drugs that are used for treating Tourette’s syndrome are known to cause drug interactions, and are hence not to be taken together.
Commonly reported side effects of sertraline
Side effects of sertraline associated with Sertraline are broadly classified into mild or moderate effects and severe effects. The mild/moderate effects are relatively common in nature and may not require medial intervention in most cases. The symptoms may resolve naturally in a short period. However, in the case of severe side effects there is a possibility of the patient requiring some form of medical assistance, depending on the severity. It is important to remember that the side effects may differ person to person, and in some cases may be persistent in nature.
Commonly occurring mild side effects include possible bouts of diarrhea, and fatigue, with some patients feeling restless for no apparent reason. Some individuals may have difficult in falling asleep while, while many experience nausea. Dry mount is a possibility, that may or may not be accompanied with headache. Individuals have reported profuse sweating as one of the side effects of sertraline while some have reported sexual dysfunction as one of the undesirable side effects of the medication. While most of the side effects typically resolve in a short period without the need for medical attention, sexual dysfunction may require medical attention or a longer time to resolve.
Side effects of sertraline that are severe in nature
Here is a compilation of side effects of sertraline that are severe in nature. By virtue of the type of condition for which the medication is prescribed, some of the side effects are related to the condition itself. For instance, individuals on antidepressants are known to harbor suicidal thoughts, and this condition is stronger in youngsters fighting depression. Caretakers or patients on the medication are cautioned to diligently monitor the mood and conduct of patients when on the medication. Any abnormal change sin behaviour or new feelings or thoughts are to be reported to the treating specialist.
As mentioned above, the side effects of sertraline include the possibility of serotonin syndrome that is attributed to an unusual increase in the levels of the neurotransmitter. The symptoms that are present with the condition are common and include feelings of restlessness, lack of proper muscle coordination, and profuse sweating. The pupils may appear dilated and there could be an increase in heart beat rate and blood pressure levels. Individuals may appear confused, while some may end up with diarrhea. The presence of any of the above symptoms require urgent medical intervention to prevent the condition from turning serious in nature. Patients may also end up with lower sodium levels when on the medication, and this may sometimes require medical attention.
Other side effects of sertraline include possible glaucoma that may impact vision in patients. Patients on blood thinners may be exposed to the risk of bleeding as one of the undesirable effects. Similar side effects of sertraline may be witnessed by patients on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Finally, there is the possibility of younger patients losing appetite or losing weight. When the loss of weight or appetite is not attributable to other conditions or dietary habits, it is essential to seek medical advice to fix the issues.
General precautions to avoid side effects of sertraline
As mentioned earlier, certain side effects are the result of a sudden discontinuation of the medication. For instance, individuals may experience difficulty in falling asleep, or may appear irritated for no particular reason. The best method of discontinuing the medication is to gradually reduce the dosage before stopping it fully. This will prevent the above side effects of sertraline including a possible ringing sensation in the ears, that is medically known as tinnitus.