Certain mental health illnesses are treated by a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like Zoloft. Sertaline, which can be sold under the brand name Zoloft, alters serotonin levels in a person’s brain that may be unbalanced due to a mental health illness. Whether in a brand name or generic formulation, it is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for the psychiatric conditions it treats.
Conditions treated with Zoloft include:
- Major depressive disorder (MDD). While this condition may be referred to as depression, MDD is characterized by chronic and extended periods of low moods and energy, issues with self-esteem, loss of interest in hobbies and activities that are typically enjoyable, and non-specific pain.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Symptoms of this disorder include fixation on inessential routines, repetitious behaviors, or thoughts that disrupt a person’s ability to function throughout a day.
- Panic disorder. People with a diagnosed panic disorder experience frequent, unexpected or unpredictable panic attacks that can cause heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, excessive sweating, trembling, tingling or numbness and a sense of dread.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People who have experienced life-threatening and intense trauma can struggle to cope with those experiences long after they occur, and they may experience disruptive thoughts, hallucinations, dreams or sensations related to the trauma, with or without external triggers.
- Social anxiety disorder (SAD). A SAD diagnosis can indicate a person experiences irrational fears in some or several social situations, from being in a room full of strangers to a celebration with loved ones. It may impair their ability to interact with others without experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety, such as sweating, stammering, sweating or nausea.
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). A form of severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS), PMDD is distinguished by its cyclic pattern as it follows a woman’s hormonal shifts. Many symptoms overlap with other common psychiatric conditions, but the mood swings, lethargy, anxiety and tension that occur due to PMDD will intensify in the week before menstruation begins.
Appropriate diagnosis of any mental health disorder may require a patient track their moods and experiences so that their mental health care professional and accurately assess symptoms. It is possible to receive a diagnosis of more than one of these conditions depending on how symptoms manifest and how frequently or intensely a person experiences them. Reporting any family history with certain mental illnesses can also help inform a diagnosis.
Side Effects and Risks Associated with Zoloft
Zoloft is considered an effective medication and may result in fewer side effects for some people when compared to other SSRIs that are prescribed for similar reasons. It can take several weeks for a person who takes Zoloft to notice an improvement of their symptoms and dosage levels may need to be adjusted before they find an optimal match for their needs.
Common side effects of SSRIs like Zoloft include gastrointestinal discomfort, difficulty sleeping, fatigue and a lowered libido. Some people have reported drowsiness, heart palpitations, dry mouth, dizziness, agitation or shaking. Zoloft may not be suitable for people under the age of 24 as it can increase symptoms of depression.
Zoloft may interact with certain medications and supplements, particularly MAO inhibitors, so talk to your doctor about any other health conditions that require you to take medication, both prescribed or purchased over-the-counter, to reduce any risk of adverse reactions.
Medicare Coverage for Zoloft
Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage plans are offered through private insurers who are contracted with Medicare to offer services to recipients. Most prescription drug coverage plans cover psychiatric medications like Zoloft and may classify them as a lower-tier drug, which means there may be low cost to you for out-of-pocket copays.
Medicare Advantage plans that offer Medicare Part D benefits as part of their plan package can be expected to offer similarly structured formularies as standalone Medicare Part D plans. Medicare recipients who qualify for a Medicaid Savings Program plan or Part D Extra Help may have the cost of Zoloft covered completely.