Zoloft: Anxiety Medication For Everyone?

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Zoloft is the familiar name we give to the drug known to medicine as sertraline hydrochloride. It is a drug available on through a doctor’s prescription, used to treat a wide range of anxiety disorders and depression. Among anxiety disorders, Zoloft is primarily used to treat social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It is mostly used to treat adults over the age of 18, although it has sometimes been approved to help children with obsessive-compulsive disorder as well.

Like many anti-anxiety drugs, Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It works by reducing the rate at which the patient’s brain reabsorbs serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter whose presence in large quantities has been associated with positive moods and high self-esteem and energy.

If your doctor prescribes Zoloft to treat your social anxiety disorder, you’ll probably be expected to take 25mg daily. After one week, your dosage will probably increase to 50 mg daily. Most likely, your drug will take the form of pills, intended to be consumed without chewing. If you have difficulty swallowing, you’ll have the option of taking Zoloft as a liquid. You will only need to ingest your dose once per day, regardless of whether or not you’ve recently ingested food.

In studies, Zoloft has shown to be successful at mitigating the symptoms of social phobia, in particular. Among unresponsive patients, higher dosages–up to 200mg daily–have been used to achieve satisfactory results. Remarkably, the more severe the phobia, and the later its onset, the more effect Zoloft was at improving its symptoms. Patients with mild social phobia did not experience much relative improvement, even after many months on Zoloft. However, patients with severe social phobia showed improvement of both their phobia’s physical signs (e.g. sweating and blushing at the sheer prospect of talking to other people), as well as its psychological signs.

For this reason, competent therapists should only prescribe Zoloft to the most hopeless of their social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive patients. As with many psychiatric drugs, Zoloft may have unpleasant side effects, and thus should only be risked with the most extreme cases of illness. Possible negative side effects of Zoloft include excessive sleepiness, disorientation, insomnia, anorgasmia and sexual impotence, a need to vomit, and the loss of appetite. Be especially wary of taking Zoloft if you’ve ever had kidney, heart, or liver problems, or if you’ve ever had problems with seizures. Pregnant women should never take Zoloft, and neither should alcoholics.

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