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How long do you have to take Zoloft before it works?

The early days: Zoloft and surveillance

If you’ve just started taking Zoloft, you probably want to know when the medicine is going to kick in. The good news is that some symtpoms may ease very quickly. Other symptoms may take a few weeks before you notice improvements. Regardless, schedule regular and frequent visits with your prescribing doctor during these early days. Why? Because monitoring and surveillance are an important aspect of treatment via antidpressants due to the risks associated with SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidpressant medications.

Your doctor will want to see you often while you are taking sertraline, especially at the beginning of any anti-depressant treatment because clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior are possible. Changes in dosage, or discontinuation of the medicine may be recommended. Additionally, ask your family or caregiver(s) to observe you closely and communicate with your Zoloft-prescribing doctor. Sometimes you cannot see changes that people close to you observe.

Common improvements week-by-week on Zoloft

1-2 weeks after taking Zoloft

In clinical studies, people taking Zoloft in 50-200 mg doses once per day experienced steady-state sertraline plasma levels approximately one week after they started the medication. Some symptoms may improve before there you notice improved mood or interest in activities, however. But these easing of first symptoms is a good sign that the SSRI is working, and that relief for mood related symptoms is coming. The most common effects reported in the first week or two after starting Zoloft include:

  • changes in appetite
  • decreased need for sleep
  • improved sleep
  • increased energy
  • less disturbances during sleep

3-6 weeks after taking Zoloft

After you start taking Zoloft regularly as prescribed, symptoms of mental health disorders such as MDD, OCD, PTSD, or PMDD gradually decrease over a period of weeks. Like similar SSRI medications, sertraline may take several weeks to be fully effective. It’s important to allow sufficient time to work before you ask your doctor to switch. Some common effects reported 3-6 weeks after starting Zoloft include:

  • improved concentration
  • improved mood
  • improved sleep
  • increased appetite
  • increased energy
  • increased interest in activities
  • less bloating, tension or breast tenderness
  • less irritability
  • relief from compulsions (repetitive, ritualized behaviors)
  • relief from feeling worthless/guilty/ hopeless/ helpless
  • relief from obsessions (unwanted, recurrent and disturbing thoughts)
  • relief from psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • relief from sad or depressed mood
  • relief from thoughts of death

Long term treatment with Zoloft

Zoloft can be an effective and safe antidepressant. In fact, once physical and mental health symptoms normalize, doctors may recommend long-term treatment with Zoloft to help prevent the return of symptoms related to mental health disorders. But only your prescribing doctor can determine the length of Zoloft treatment that is right for you. Be sure to check in regularly with your doctor about doses and effects of Zoloft. And if you want to stop Zoloft, be sure that you do so under medical supervision. It is wise to work together to prevent unnecessary risks to your health and well-being.

If you think you have a problem with abuse or addiction to Zoloft, you can learn more about antidepressant addiction, available treatment options, and what does the rehab process look like. Get more info in this comprehensive GUIDE on Zaoloft Addiction Treatment Programs and Help.

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Reference sources: National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI Zoloft (sertraline) review

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22 Responses to “How long do you have to take Zoloft before it works?
Ned Wicker
10:11 pm June 15th, 2011

The key to this story is three words:

take as prescribed

Many people take Zoloft but few take as prescribed. They think if one pill is good two will be better, a huge mistake!!!

Daughter of Zoloft User
3:20 pm June 20th, 2011

My parents were using Zoloft for a while, and although I sensed that my father benefited from the drug, his underlying issues causing depression remained. Now that he’s off Zoloft, his mood is bad and his depression present.

2:45 pm June 30th, 2011

I do wonder if medications like Zoloft are helpful or harmful in the long term…are there any of you out there with long-term Zoloft using experience?

Sly Iorliam
4:15 pm March 11th, 2012

I have used Sertraline for over 6 years now and can say it is an effective depressant. My Doctor had to increase the dose from 50 mg to 100 mg daily following a traumatic experience I had one year ago. Its action is enhanced by lots of exercises.
So far no adverse reaction.
Sly

Jaqueline R.
1:17 pm November 15th, 2012

My dr wants me to take zoloft but I’m terrified of the side-effects of any of the GAD meds. I don’t know what to do. I feel like, if I get on that med train I will never be the same.

2:06 pm November 15th, 2012

Hi Jaqueline. I’d suggest that you make a list of all of your concerns, including the belief that your brain will be permanently changed after taking Zoloft. Take the list to your doctor and seek advice. Additionally, consult with a pharmacist about your concerns. And get some facts about the long term use of Zoloft before you make the decision about whether or not to choose this medication.

Jaqueline Roberts
2:15 pm November 15th, 2012

Thank you for your insight and suggestions. I have done the things you suggest but was not satisfied with my dr’s explanations. His remarks seemed so at odds with what I read on net sites such as this. I have never taken any meds of this type, only a very minor amount of Xanax (.25 twice a day) for the past 20+ years since I had panic attacks at work. I think I’ll just “soldier on” as they say and deal with my anxiety as best I can. I really should be strong enough to cope with what life is left to me. Thanks, once again, for your concern. Best to you.

David
3:39 pm June 13th, 2014

I have been on the drug for little over a week. I am unable to achieve an orgasm.
However he put on another drug to counter that side effect. I hope it works.

AnotherZoloftUser
3:07 am February 12th, 2016

I am on day 11 of Zoloft 25mg prescribed for anxiety. So far, I hate this drug. My anxiety is ten times worse, headaches just about everyday, dizziness, you name it. I’m supposed to “stick with it” for another few days. It’s torture.

Lisa
9:15 pm March 3rd, 2016

I have taken Sertraline now for 8 days and I just notice an improvement today. I felt more depressed and anxious and had sleep disturbances and restless legs, but they’re all but gone today. I almost quit taking it but hung in there. Hope it continues to improve. Was on Celexa for years and it only partially worked and would poop out after a few months so my hope it that this one works long term as I have chronic depression and anxiety.

Alfred
2:51 am April 19th, 2016

I suffer from OCD and began taking Zoloft 5 weeks ago. Side effects are gone. Depression kinda gone. OCD still there, though not as powerful or annoying as before. Currently take 200 mg a day. Not a magic pill. Neither was the prozac I took last year. But still better than nothing.

Wade
1:19 am September 9th, 2016

I was on 100mg a day for 4 years for depression and anxiety really took a couple months to fill better I’d say I was 80 % better anyway but I was pretty happy with that since before it I couldn’t concentrate or basically think or do my job especially if there was any stress or pressure involved It was a life saver literally but for some reason the DR felt the need to wean me off of the after 4 years 2 months later I’m a mental mess again and am restarting them again

Theresa
10:44 pm November 17th, 2016

I have been on Zoloft for 2 weeks and almost instantly felt back to my old happy self. I had anxiety from work and was crying everyday. I also was on a mild dose of Valium but stopped taking that a week ago because it made me too lathargic to work. If I knew I could feel this normal so soon I would have gone to the doctors a year ago. I thought I would just need to harden up an soldier on. Big mistake. I was on Zoloft for 3 months 15 years ago and it pulled my life together then too but like allot of people prided myself on not being on meds because so many people are. Going on Zoloft has saved my mind and my job. I am starting to really love and be gentle on myself again

Alfred
3:23 pm December 9th, 2016

Alfred again. I continue taking 200 mg Zoloft a day. At around 9 months taking zoloft I am now feeling great. OCD is virtually gone, and if it ever shows up I can easily ignore it. Will continue on 200 mg Zoloft for at least one year more ( or more ). This has greatly improved my productivity. 9 Months ago OCD was so bad I could not even work due to rituals and random panic attacks. Not anymore! You need perseverance, it takes some time.

vikas
8:39 am January 27th, 2017

Hey Alfred,
Good to hear your response on zoloft, I am also diagnosed with OCD and prescribed daxid 100 (same zolft brand), so far for 3 weeks side affects felt are vision blurred and sleepy, my anxiety is improved but no help with OCD till now.
Any suggestion shld i consult my doc to increase the dose to 200 mg per day or shld i wait some more weeks.

IMOGENE
1:49 am March 21st, 2017

been on zoloft for 4 month , month on 200mg but its not working. should i stop it?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
7:10 pm March 23rd, 2017

Hi Imogene. I suggest that you consult with your doctor.

Leese
3:21 am April 8th, 2017

My 11-year-old son was suicidal two and a half months ago. He has been on Zoloft for nearly two months now, moving up from 25 to 100mg and it seems as if there is an improvement regarding his anxiety. However, each increased dose is very difficult on him physically and emotionally. His stomach hurts all the time as does his head.

I was hoping you could let me know if we keep him a level for a while (even one month) will some of the side effects start to wear off? Will he start to feel physically better? My priority has been to calm down the sad, scared thoughts and we are doing that, but I also would like to see him feel better physically.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:38 pm April 12th, 2017

Hi Leese. I suggest that you speak with his doctor. This is hard and very serious situation.

Corey
8:08 pm May 21st, 2017

So I have a lot of anxiety, lately i have had a lot of anxiety about death and was just put on Zoloft. It’s been less than a week that i have been taking it so i was just wondering if anyone knows how long will it be before i start to feel like myself again? And will these thoughts go away with the help of Zoloft? I have also requested to see a therapist about my anxiety and Obsessive thoughts.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:15 pm May 26th, 2017

Hi Corey. Using Zoloft depends from the patient’s needs. Continued care from a therapist may help you heal faster.

New User
7:41 pm June 18th, 2017

Started Zoloft 5 weeks ago (25mg – 7 days, 50mg – 28 days) Fifth week felt like i was coming around, happy, no anxiety, then start of week 6 anxiety is back. Waking up at night again in panic. Been 3 days of this so far. Anyone else experience this?

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