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Zoloft Alternatives

This entry was posted in Antidepressant and tagged on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on November 4, 2021 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Natural alternatives to Zoloft can avoid the host of short-term and long-term side effects that come along with the prescription.6 Alternative to Meds non-drug-based antidepressant alternatives for depression are in alignment with a growing field of what is termed complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This article will focus on the more evidence-based aspects of Zoloft alternatives

Zoloft is often prescribed without any real biological or medical testing.7 Because of this, it is highly possible that physiological or therapeutic things were missed that may have been contributing to the depression.19

Do Your Symptoms
Require Zoloft?

successful zoloft alternatives
Alternative to Meds has been primarily invested in antidepressant alternatives for over 15 years. Using Holistic and Environmental Medicine, we have published evidence demonstrating that more than three-quarters of our clients coming off antidepressant medication, such as via Zoloft tapering, and replacing medications with a holistic lifestyle have fewer and less intense symptoms, and feel much better than they felt while medicated.
Many persons coming to Alternative to Meds Center believe that they cannot be helped. They have been tossed around and put on so many drugs, and generally seen themselves get worse and worse yet believing they have tried everything. This video is of a woman who had been on antidepressants and benzodiazepines for decades. She became unable to work and almost unable to even walk. After eliminating these medications and doing the Alternative to Meds program, she could hike 1½ hours and even successfully resumed her career of professional counseling. The story is riveting and we encourage you to watch so that you can gain hope for your situation.

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Zoloft, A Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI)

Zoloft (sertraline) is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).6

Zoloft is FDA-approved to treat these conditions:

  • MDD – major depressive disorder
  • OCD – obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • PD – panic disorder
  • PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder
  • SAD – social anxiety disorder
  • PMDD – premenstrual dysphoric disorder

Despite the wide range of indications, the contraindications and adverse effects make a much, much longer list, leaving many wanting to explore safer, more effective Zoloft alternatives.9 When a patient experiences bothersome Zoloft side effects or feels that this drug is not sufficiently managing their symptoms of depression or other mental health conditions, the doctor may prescribe Prozac, Effexor, or other substitute medications.

To avoid adverse effects, many individuals with depression may want to try natural Zoloft alternatives and holistic therapies instead.2 Other SSRIs like Prozac®, Effexor®, Celexa®, etc., often cause the same side effects and problems that are associated with Zoloft.10 Extreme side effects11 can occur with all SSRI medications and quite often the drug may not provide adequate relief. Many users may experience more grief than relief from taking SSRI medication.12

Zoloft Disinhibition and “The Zoloft Defense”

It is becoming more and more common to hear about tragedies attributed to psychiatric medication use. Zoloft has been known to create disinhibition in certain types of people, especially younger adults.14

In December 2019, a teenager from Illinois accused of killing her mother claims she is not responsible for her actions because she had been taking the antidepressant medication Zoloft. According to the New York Daily News, her lawyer attempted to claim that Anna Schroeder “was in a drugged condition that was involuntarily produced and deprived her of substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of her conduct or to conform her conduct to the requirements of law.”1 This has now been coined the “Zoloft defense.” Another teenager Christopher Pittman, at the age of 12 years old shotgunned both of his grandparents and set the home on fire in a truly bizarre tirade. The defense, in this case, claimed that the Zoloft that he was taking contributed to the violence.13

With these types of incidents occurring with alarming frequency, one would be prudent to consider Zoloft Alternatives that don’t carry such a burden of life-damaging side effects.15  

Effective Zoloft Alternatives Treatments

talk therapy zoloft alternativeFor the many people who are not responsive to antidepressants or who just don’t want to depend on prescription drugs to maintain mental health, there are fortunately many alternative remedies, therapies, treatments, natural approaches one can pursue. One of the most effective Zoloft alternatives for depression is talk therapy, which comes in various forms, and is typically delivered over a number of weeks.20 Talk therapy is designed to help patients to understand their problems, look at problems with new insights, and work through problems by verbally exchanging with their talk therapist.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions may focus on helping patients to undo conditioned behavioral patterns and thought patterns that either partially or wholly have caused depression or that have developed as a result of an individual’s depression. A CBT therapist aims to help patients replace negative patterns with more positive responses in life, and teach patients the tools and skills necessary for achieving more satisfaction through the patient’s own actions. Other therapeutic practices such as acupuncture18 and massage17 and other natural Zoloft alternatives described below can be tailored to be the most effective for individuals who suffer from depression, anxiety, or other conditions and who desire safer more effective antidepressant alternatives.

Natural Alternatives to Zoloft Include:

  • Nutritional therapy, testing for deficiencies, corrected diet 19
  • Talk therapy such as CBT, DBT, etc.20,21
  • Exercise 2
  • Bright light therapy, exposure to sunlight 8
  • Test for and eliminate neurotoxic accumulations 22
  • “Shinrin-yoku” or forest bathing* brings symptom relief that is long-lasting 3
  • Massage 17
  • Acupuncture can relieve pain, stress, tension, fatigue 18,25,26,
  • Supplements such as Tryptophan, SAMe, Omega Fatty Acids 23,24
  • Other herbal and nutritional remedies may include St. Johns Wort, Kava, B12, chlorella, amino acids, valerian 15,23,24,32,33,37
  • Yoga 37
  • Meditation 36
  • Repair and support microbiota in the digestive tract through diet and probiotics 35
  • Test for and resolve food or other allergies, such as molds 34
  • Test for hormone-related issues as in premenstrual dysphoria that may be resolved with natural methods 29,33

*Forest bathing studies (Hanson, Jones, Tocchini PMID 28788101) show the practice is effective in the relief of stress, anxiety, tension, and other benefits.

Holistic Zoloft Alternatives

holistic zoloft alternativesAntidepressant users are highly advised to consult with a doctor before attempting to discontinue the use of their medication,6 and if not satisfied with antidepressant treatment, consult with a doctor immediately. There can be no good reason to take a drug that does not help you. Individuals searching for effective alternatives may consider finding a holistic psychiatric, or an integrative doctor for Zoloft alternatives treatment.4 Integrative medical doctors have the same medical knowledge as traditional doctors but have chosen to expand their education and certifications in holistic medicine as well.

Other Zoloft alternatives for anxiety and depression treatments include targeted nutritional supplements and herbal remedies, such as valerian,16 kava,32 vitamin B12,24 chlorella,33 amino acids.23 and Omega-3 fatty acids — these are examples of Zoloft alternatives that contain essential nutrients that our bodies need to function properly.24

Discovering Root Causes for Symptoms

An individual is usually put on an antidepressant prior to there being any substantial amount of investigative efforts to discover why they have become depressed.27 An assumption of low serotonin could be irrelevant when other issues are not checked.28 Did you know women with menstrual issues are often misdiagnosed bipolar? 29 What about food allergies where internal swelling can disrupt metabolism? 30 An accumulation of neurotoxins including heavy metals can also impact energy metabolism, another potential causal factor of depression.22 The individual could also be eating a diet that is so lacking in nutrients that they are not able to produce what is required for the brain and CNS to be healthy.31 The brain and each of the organs in the body are subject to fallout from a poor diet. Another important area to address is where the individual is just overwhelmed in an unsatisfactory life, and they need more supportive surroundings in order to make positive changes and healthy decisions.

Discovering root causes is like drawing the map before embarking on your journey to wellness.

Panic Attacks – Holistic Help

holistic help for panic attacksPanic attacks can be startling! If you have ever experienced one, you may have found it difficult to convey the depth and breadth of the overwhelm. Doctors might sympathetically offer a “fast fix” like Zoloft, with all good intentions. However, first-line treatments of a mild, non-drug-based nature are recommended by the National Institute of Mental Health.5

A clinical study authored by Dr. Jean Cottraux, published in the Journal of Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience in 2002 reported that CBT and learned relaxation and breathing exercises outperformed medication by significant degrees in the treatment of anxiety-related disorders including agoraphobia. Exposure or gradual habituation therapy also proved successful in reducing distress and other symptoms without medications.38

Integrative Zoloft Alternatives

integrative zoloft alternativesAlternative to Meds Center’s Detox Shoppe works to discover any potential medical causes for why the individual may be depressed or suffering other mental health challenges. Our integrative Zoloft alternatives include lab tests, supporting the neurochemistry with natural substances, removal of accumulated environmental neurotoxins, including colon hydrotherapy, gentle Zoloft withdrawal techniques, various genres of counseling, targeted nutritional therapies such as amino therapy, IV + NAD therapies, neurotransmitter rehabilitation, personal training, acupuncture, yoga, massage, peer support, Qi Gong, art therapy, equine therapy, and many other integrative Zoloft alternatives that are proven effective. We invite you to call and speak with us and gain a better understanding of the comprehensive range of Zoloft alternatives help that is available to you or to someone you care about.


1. Boroff D. “Illinois teen accused of killing mom was under influence of Zoloft and not responsible, lawyer argues,” New York Daily News [INTERNET] 2019 Dec [cited 2020 Dec 28]

2. Medicinewise News, “Exploring non-drug options in depression.” NPS Australia [INTERNET] 2016 Feb 1 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

3. Hanson M, Jones R et al., “Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State of the Art Review.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health” 2017 Jul 28 PMID 28788101 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

4. Gibbs G, “What is Holistic Psychiatry?” [Internet] 2016 Dec 3 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

5. NIH authored brochure, “Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms.” [Internet] 2016 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

6. FDA drug label ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) Label FDA approval 1991 [cited 2021 Oct 21]

7. Why Are There No Biological Tests in Psychiatry? Scientific American By Ingrid Wickelgren on May 11, 2012 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

8. Penckofer S, Kouba J, Byrn M, Estwing Ferrans C. Vitamin D and depression: where is all the sunshine?. Issues Ment Health Nurs. 2010;31(6):385-393. doi:10.3109/01612840903437657 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

9. Limitations of current medical treatments for depression: disturbed circadian rhythms as a possible therapeutic target Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 2007 Dec;17(12):743-55. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2007.05.004. Epub 2007 Jul 10. By Malcolm Lader [cited 2020 Dec 28]

10. The drugs don’t work? antidepressants and the current and future pharmacological management of depression Ther Adv Psychopharmacol. 2012 Oct; 2(5): 179–188. Elizabeth Penn corresponding author and Derek K. Tracy [cited 2020 Dec 28]

11. The ‘extreme’ side-effects of antidepressants By Lesley Ashmall BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme Published 19 October 2016 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

12. Long-term use of antidepressants could cause permanent damage, doctors warn Sky News Tuesday 9 April 2019 UK By Katie Spencer, news reporter [cited 2020 Dec 28]

13. Defense says boy’s rage was caused by medicine CHICAGO TRIBUNE Aug 24, 2004 Barry Meier, New York Times News Service [cited 2020 Dec 28]

14. Antidepressant-Induced Activation in Children and Adolescents: Risk, Recognition and Management Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care. 2018 Feb; 48(2): 50–62. Published online 2018 Jan 19. Marissa J. Luft, BS, Martine Lamy, MD, PhD, Melissa P. DelBello, MD, MS, Robert K. McNamara, PhD, and Jeffrey R. Strawn, MD [cited 2020 Dec 28]

15. Antidepressants and murder: case not closed BMJ 2017; 358 Peter C Gøtzsche (Published 02 August 2017) [cited 2020 Dec 28]

16. Tang JY, Zeng YS, Chen QG, Qin YJ, Chen SJ, Zhong ZQ. “Effects of Valerian on the level of 5-hydroxytryptamine, cell proliferation and neurons in cerebral hippocampus of rats with depression induced by chronic mild stress.“. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2008 Mar;6(3):283-8. Chinese. PMID: 18334150.[cited 2020 Dec 28]

17. Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: a meta-analysis J Clin Psychiatry 2010 Jul;71(7):894-901. Epub 2010 Mar 23. Wen-Hsuan Hou, Pai-Tsung Chiang, Tun-Yen Hsu, Su-Ying Chiu, Yung-Chieh Yen [cited 2020 Dec 28]

18. Is acupuncture beneficial in depression: A meta-analysis of 8 randomized controlled trials? Journal of Affective Disorders Volume 111, Issues 2–3, December 2008, Pages 125-134 Hao Wang, Hong Qi, Bai-song Wang, Yong-yao Cui, Liang Zhu, Zheng-xing Rong, Hong-zhuan Chen [cited 2020 Dec 28]

19. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses Indian J Psychiatry. 2008 Apr-Jun; 50(2): 77–82. T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, M. R. Asha, B. N. Ramesh, and K. S. Jagannatha Rao  [cited 2020 Dec 28]

20. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Mood Disorders: Efficacy, Moderators and Mediators Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2010 Sep; 33(3): 537–555. Ellen Driessen, M.Sc. and Steven D. Hollon, Ph.D. [cited 2020 Dec 28]

21. Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Depressed Older Adults: A Randomized Pilot Study The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry Volume 11, Issue 1, January–February 2003, Pages 33-45 Regular Research Article Thomas R. Lynch Ph.D., Jennifer Q. Morse Ph.D., Tamar Mendelson M.A., Clive J. Robins Ph.D. [cited 2020 Dec 28]

22. Environmental Exposures and Depression: Biological Mechanisms and Epidemiological Evidence Annual Review of Public Health Vol. 40:239-259 (Volume publication date April 2019) First published as a Review in Advance on 2019 Jan 11 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

23. The Effects of Dietary Tryptophan on Affective Disorders Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2015 Apr; 29(2): 102–107. Published online 2014 Dec 9. Glenda Lindseth, Brian Helland, and Julie Caspers [cited 2020 Dec 28]

24. Update and Critique of Natural Remedies as Antidepressant Treatments Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 Dec 1. Published in final edited form as: Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2009 Dec; 36(4): 789–807. David Mischoulon, MD, PhD [cited 2020 Dec 28]

25. The Immediate Analgesic Effect of Acupuncture for Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017; 2017: 3837194. Published online 2017 Oct 25. doi: 10.1155/2017/3837194 Anfeng Xiang, Ke Cheng, Xueyong Shen, Ping Xu, and Sheng Liu [cited 2020 Dec 28]

26. Acupuncture for chronic fatigue syndrome and idiopathic chronic fatigue: a multicenter, nonblinded, randomized controlled trial Trials. 2015; 16: 314. Published online 2015 Jul 26. Jung-Eun Kim, Byung-Kwan Seo, Jin-Bong Choi, Hyeong-Jun Kim, Tae-Hun Kim, Min-Hee Lee, Kyung-Won Kang, Joo-Hee Kim, Kyung-Min Shin, Seunghoon Lee, So-Young Jung, Ae-Ran Kim, Mi-Suk Shin, Hee-Jung Jung, Hyo-Ju Park, Sung-Phil Kim, Yong-Hyeon Baek, Kwon-Eui Hong, and Sun-Mi Choi corresponding author [cited 2020 Dec 28]

27. NHS Health Letter, “Clinical depression – Causes – NHS.” National Health Services UK [2019 Dec 10] [cited 2020 Dec 28]

28. What has serotonin to do with depression? World Psychiatry. 2015 Jun; 14(2): 158–160. Published online 2015 Jun 4. Philip J Cowen and Michael Browning [cited 2020 Dec 28]

29. Studd J. Severe premenstrual syndrome and bipolar disorder: a tragic confusion. Menopause Int. 2012 Jun;18(2):82-6. doi: 10.1258/mi.2012.012018. PMID: 22611228.[cited 2021 Oct 21]

30. Is There a Connection Between Food Allergies and Mental Health? Integrative Psychiatry 2012 Sep 6 [cited 2020 Dec 28]

31. Evidence of the Importance of Dietary Habits Regarding Depressive Symptoms and Depression Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Mar; 17(5): 1616. Published online 2020 Mar 2. Tina Ljungberg, Emma Bondza, and Connie Lethin [cited 2020 Dec 28]

32. Sarris J, Kavanagh DJ, Byrne G, Bone KM, Adams J, Deed G. “The Kava Anxiety Depression Spectrum Study (KADSS): a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial using an aqueous extract of Piper methysticum.” Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2009 Aug;205(3):399-407. doi: 10.1007/s00213-009-1549-9. Epub 2009 May 9. PMID: 19430766.[cited Dec 28]

33. Panahi Y, Badeli R, Karami GR, Badeli Z, Sahebkar A. “A randomized controlled trial of 6-week Chlorella vulgaris supplementation in patients with major depressive disorder.” Complement Ther Med. 2015 Aug;23(4):598-602. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2015.06.010. Epub 2015 Jun 18. PMID: 26275653.[cited 2020 Dec 28]

33. Futterman LA, Rapkin AJ. Diagnosis of premenstrual disorders. J Reprod Med. 2006 Apr;51(4 Suppl):349-58. PMID: 16734318. [cited 2021 Oct 21]

34. Potera C. Molding a link to depressionEnviron Health Perspect. 2007;115(11):A536. doi:10.1289/ehp.115-a536a [cited 2021 Oct 21]

35. Clapp M, Aurora N, Herrera L, Bhatia M, Wilen E, Wakefield S. Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clin Pract. 2017;7(4):987. Published 2017 Sep 15. doi:10.4081/cp.2017.987 [cited 2021 Oct 21]

36. Behan C. The benefits of meditation and mindfulness practices during times of crisis such as COVID-19. Ir J Psychol Med. 2020 Dec;37(4):256-258. doi: 10.1017/ipm.2020.38. Epub 2020 May 14. PMID: 32406348; PMCID: PMC7287297. [cited 2021 Oct 21]

37. Ross A, Thomas S. The health benefits of yoga and exercise: a review of comparison studies. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Jan;16(1):3-12. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0044. PMID: 20105062. [cited 2021 Oct 21]

38. Cottraux J. Nonpharmacological treatments for anxiety disordersDialogues Clin Neurosci. 2002;4(3):305-319. doi:10.31887/DCNS.2002.4.3/jcottraux [cited 2021 Oct 22]


Originally Published Oct 30, 2018 by Lyle Murphy


This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Zoloft Alternatives
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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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