Long-Term Effects of Zoloft
While even short-term Zoloft use can cause undesirable and potentially dangerous side effects, taking sertraline for an extended period may have even more severe effects on your body and mind. The long-term effects of sertraline on the brain can go far beyond discontinuation syndrome, causing physical changes like weight fluctuation and problems with your sex drive.
Some of the more common long-term side effects of antidepressants include:
- Weight gain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Memory loss
- Cognitive impairment
One of the most-reported side effects of SSRIs is weight gain, which can be both physically and mentally taxing. For those with body image issues, gaining weight as a result of taking an SSRI might be hard to deal with emotionally, and it can add an extra hurdle to dealing with your mental illness. In addition to the mental stress of weight gain, the physical stress of this extra weight can be detrimental to overall health.20
Another often reported adverse effect of antidepressant use is sexual dysfunction. While increasing the level of serotonin in your brain might seem like a good idea, antidepressants actually suppress the necessary neuroreceptors and chemicals responsible for libido. This can cause tension in your relationships and personal life as well as physical discomfort.6
Studies ranging in length from 35 days to 8 weeks, to 6 months showed statistically significant memory loss and cognitive impairment in a wide age range of participants (aged 20-60). Zoloft appears to slow cognitive function and may worsen existing memory deterioration. 7,15
Dealing with the long-term effects of antidepressants can be a very serious endeavor, and symptoms can persist long after your use of the medication has stopped. Identifying a safer alternative treatment or seeking treatment for safe and proper antidepressant withdrawal are two extremely important steps on your own recovery journey. Rather than suffering adverse side effects or developing secondary syndromes as a result of SSRI use, choosing a more holistic option for treatment can help ensure you keep your body and your mind healthy.
Alternatives to Prescription Zoloft
Although prescriptions are readily available, they should not be used as a “one size fits all” treatment—or even the first option to treat various mental health conditions. More holistic approaches and alternatives to Zoloft can help you address your mental illness while keeping your body and brain healthy. For example, stimulating physical activities, such as yoga or Qi Gong, can help you naturally release negative emotions and anxiety in your system by utilizing key stretches and workout techniques aimed at opening up the body.
Other alternatives to Zoloft include equine-assisted therapy and massage therapy.
Some less-taxing treatment methods, such as Reiki or art therapy courses, can help you connect to your natural, spiritual self and promote healing from within. Spiritual practices may also benefit you in your personal journey. Neurotoxins have detrimental effects on mental and physical health, and neurotoxin removal is another recommended alternative treatment. Diet is extremely important in recovery after antidepressant use, and may also benefit your original symptoms for which Zoloft was prescribed, but did not adequately help.
Finally, consider pursuing holistic treatment that incorporates some or all these alternatives. Look for a provider that offers talk therapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, art therapy, acupuncture, peer support programs, IV nutrient therapy, and more. Then, ask how you can adjust your own personal nutrition and physical activity to increase your serotonin naturally.
Find the Right Kind of Help
While Zoloft is approved to treat depression and a number of other conditions, the mechanism by which it causes an accumulation of serotonin is not fully understood. The efficacy of Zoloft to treat depression or other symptoms is questionable at best, according to recent research published in The Lancet and more research published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacokinetics some 20 years ago.17,19 Alternative to Meds Center knows antidepressants are linked to a number of adverse side effects, including clinical worsening, and suicidality. Taking Zoloft long-term to treat your depression, may not be the best path forward. Contact us today for more information on how our inpatient program may be your best option to overcome the long-term effects of Zoloft.