Drugs Q & A

Does Sertraline Make You Sleepy?

Sleep is an essential function that allows your body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. Healthy sleep also helps the body remain healthy and stave off diseases. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly.

Depression and sleep problems are closely linked. People with insomnia, for example, may have a tenfold higher risk of developing depression than people who get a good night’s sleep. And among people with depression, 75 percent have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

However, many medications both prescription and over-the-counter drugs can affect your sleep routine and make it impossible for you to have a refreshing sleep.

What is sertraline?

Sertraline, more commonly known by the brand-name drug Zoloft is a medication used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (bothersome thoughts that won’t go away and the need to perform certain actions over and over), panic attacks (sudden, unexpected attacks of extreme fear and worry about these attacks), posttraumatic stress disorder (disturbing psychological symptoms that develop after a frightening experience), and social anxiety disorder (extreme fear of interacting with others or performing in front of others that interferes with normal life).

Sertraline is also used to relieve the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, including mood swings, irritability, bloating, and breast tenderness. Sertraline is in a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

How sertraline works

Sertraline is in a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and works by increasing the amounts of serotonin, a natural substance in the brain that helps maintain mental balance. This can improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Does sertraline make you sleepy?    

Yes, sertraline can make you very sleepy, especially during your first week on the drug. These side effects often get better over the first week or two weeks. Sertraline can also cause some insomnia or difficulty sleeping in others.

If sertraline is making you sleepy, you can try the following strategies:

•          Take a brief nap during the day.

•          Get some physical activity, such as walking.

•          Avoid driving or operating dangerous machinery until the fatigue passes.

•          Take your antidepressant at bedtime if your doctor approves.

•          Talk to your doctor to see if adjusting your dose will help

Other side effects you may experience while taking sertraline include:

  • nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and indigestion
  • change in sleep habits, including increased sleepiness and insomnia
  • increased sweating
  • sexual problems, including decreased sex drive and ejaculation failure
  • tremor or shaking
  • tiredness and fatigue
  • agitation

Additional side effects for children can include:

  • abnormal increase in muscle movement or agitation
  • nose bleed
  • more frequent urination
  • urine leakage
  • aggressiveness
  • heavy menstrual periods
  • slowed growth rate and weight change. You should closely watch your child’s height and weight while they take this drug.

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Suicide attempts
  • Acting on dangerous impulses
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Thoughts about suicide or dying
  • New or worse depression
  • New or worse anxiety or panic attacks
  • Agitation, restlessness, anger, or irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • An increase in activity or talking more than normal
  • Serotonin syndrome. This condition can be life-threatening. Symptoms can include:
    • hallucinations and delusions
    • agitation
    • loss of consciousness
    • seizures
    • coma
    • fast heart rate
    • changes in blood pressure
    • muscle tremor or stiff muscles
    • dizziness
    • shakiness
    • sweating
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • muscle rigidity
  • Severe allergic reactions. Symptoms can include:
    • trouble breathing
    • swelling of your face, tongue, eyes, or mouth
    • rash, itchy welts (hives) or blisters, alone or with fever or joint pain
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Manic episodes. Symptoms can include:
    • greatly increased energy
    • severe trouble sleeping
    • racing thoughts
    • reckless behavior
    • unusually grand ideas
    • excessive happiness or irritability
    • talking more or faster than usual
  • Changes in appetite or weight. You should check the weight and height of children and adolescents often while they take this drug.
  • Low sodium levels. Seniors may be at greater risk for this. Symptoms can include:
    • headache
    • weakness or unsteadiness
    • confusion, problems concentrating or thinking, or memory problems
  • Eye pain
  • Changes in vision, including blurred and double vision
  • Swelling or redness in or around your eyes

Sertraline may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

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