Pfizer first introduced its version of Sertraline hydrochloride, under the name Zoloft, back in 1991. It is an antidepressant that is from a class of drugs called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors. Though first developed as a medication for depression, Zoloft is also FDA approved for the treatment of social anxiety disorders, other forms of anxiety disorder, panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorders in adults (over the age of 18 years). Among children and teens between the ages of six and seventeen, the FDA has approved Zoloft for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorders.
In 2007, Zoloft was prescribed more than any other antidepressant available on the American market, with 29,652,000 prescriptions having been written and filled. Though the actual effect of this form of antidepressant is considered to be comparable to that of the older tricyclic form of antidepressants, these are often a first choice simply because their side effects are different and less dramatic. In fact, some studies are starting to show that drugs of Zoloft’s nature are actually more effective for some kinds of depression than fluoxetine (commonly known as Prozac). Furthermore, it is known to be exceptionally effective in treating anxiety and panic disorders. That being said, cognitive behavioral therapy is still considered to be a superior treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder than Zoloft – but Zoloft in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy is much better than either one on their own.
Actual social phobia (the extreme version of social anxiety disorder) and post-traumatic disorders can see improvements through the use of Zoloft, but only modestly. Other therapies are recommended in conjunction with the drug. Zoloft has also been known to help ease the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) when using sub-therapeutic doses or simply using it intermittently as needed for treatment.
Though a very effective drug, Zoloft does not come without the risk of side effects – some of which are quite common. These side effects are universal throughout the SSRI class of drugs. They include diarrhea, nausea, insomnia, sleepiness, and sexual side effects. Some people also report dry mouth. That being said, unlike many other SSRIs, Zoloft has not been shown to lead to weight gain and any cognition impacts it has are deemed to be mild. As with other forms of antidepressant, in some specific types of cases, there is an increased risk of suicidal thoughts with Zoloft – however, statistics relating to this topic are currently subject to controversy.