Antidepressants for ADHD: Does Zoloft (Sertraline) Treat or Worsen ADHD?
Have you or your loved one been suffering from ADHD? If so, you may be on the lookout for the best medicine. While the most common and FDA-approved choices for this condition are stimulant medications (Adderall, Focalin, Dexedrine) and non-stimulants (Strattera, Clonidine, Intuniv), antidepressants are sometimes prescribed off-label. What is the best antidepressant for ADHD? Doctors have been using Zoloft for this purpose. This medication is also used to treat several mental conditions.
So, does Zoloft help with ADHD? Or can Zoloft make ADHD worse? In this article, we’ll review the link between the effects of Zoloft and ADHD and the possible side effects of the drug.
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What Is Zoloft?
Zoloft, also known as sertraline, is an antidepressant found in the drug group categorized as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs help increase serotonin levels in the brain. A higher level of the neurotransmitter serotonin enables the brain to send “messages” across brain cells more efficiently. As a result, the body can effectively control mood, sleep, and appetite.
Conditions Zoloft Treats
Some of the conditions Zoloft treats include depression, anxiety, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic attacks. Zoloft isn’t FDA-approved to treat ADHD. However, doctors have found it effective in improving attention and reducing hyperactivity for people with ADHD.
Physicians also use the drug in the management of conditions comorbid with ADHD, such as bipolar disorder. For some individuals, using antidepressants can lead to reducing severe symptoms in the short term, but in general, the effects are individual.
Can Antidepressants Make ADHD Worse?
After taking antidepressants, your ADHD symptoms may get worse. If you have anxiety, you may experience increased anxiety from taking them. Feeling worse is part of the side effects, which are more likely to disappear with time. But why can SSRIs make ADHD worse? In addition to improving mood, serotonin also activates a brain chemical called the corticotropin-releasing hormone. The brain releases this chemical in response to stress or perceived threat. So it triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response to protect you from perceived threats. Since there’s no actual threat, your body responds by increasing anxiety.
Not everyone experiences worsening symptoms after taking Zoloft. Symptoms tend to worsen if you have anxiety compared to being diagnosed with depression only. Some people discontinue the medicine once they see symptoms getting worse. But if you continue taking the drug, you may experience relief afterward.
The benefits of antidepressants tend to override the adverse effects with time. User reviews for Zoloft show an average rating of 7.2 out of 10. About 63% of its users experienced favorable effects, while 19% had adverse effects. The majority use it for depression, panic disorder, and social anxiety. Based on these reviews, the med has considerable positive effects in managing depression and anxiety for people with ADHD.
How to Use Zoloft for ADHD?
Zoloft comes as a tablet, capsule, or liquid. If you take capsules, you can take the prescribed Zoloft dosage with food. But for the fluid and tablet forms, you can take them with or without food.
Most people take Zoloft once a day, in the morning or the evening. Your doctor will recommend an appropriate Zoloft dosage based on your health situation. Generally, when starting the medication, doctors prescribe a lower dosage. Then, if your body reacts well to the drug, the doctor increases the dose. But if it’s ineffective or produces adverse long-term effects, your doctor can minimize the dosage or use a different drug.
The use of Zoloft in ADHD treatment is often combined with behavioral therapy and educational interventions.
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Zoloft Side Effects
Side effects are common thing when you start taking antidepressants. To be safe, avoid taking Zoloft without a doctor’s prescription. And when your doctor prescribes the drug, be sure to follow the instructions provided. Doing this can help alleviate some of the side effects of Zoloft.
Zoloft side effects appear in the first days of taking the drug. However, they may disappear after a while. These side effects include nausea, diarrhea, stomach problems, loss of appetite, tremors, and mood swings. Side effects may differ from one person to another. Plus, they may be mild or severe.
Once your body adapts to Zoloft, you may stop experiencing extreme side effects. But when you want to discontinue the medication, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. So, it’s advisable not to stop using the drug suddenly. It’s essential to consult your doctor before discontinuing Zoloft. Often, doctors reduce the dosage gradually until it becomes safe to stop.
Patients taking sertraline for ADHD should be regularly monitored by their doctor for any changes in symptoms or side effects.
Interactions Associated with Zoloft
Side effects may come due to interactions associated with Zoloft. These interactions may result from allergies or other drugs you may be taking. So it’s essential to inform your doctor of any allergies you have or any medicine you may be taking. Avoid taking new drugs in addition to Zoloft without consulting your doctor. Always read the labels and instructions before taking any prescribed meds and if you have questions or concerns, discuss them with your prescriber.
Precautions Associated with Zoloft
Before taking the drug, it’s critical to understand the precautions associated with Zoloft. First, using alcohol and marijuana is not advisable when taking this med. Secondly, conditions like liver disease, diabetes, and heart problems may worsen after taking the drug. So inform the doctor about your personal and family medical history to get accurate help.
Doctors can manage Zoloft’s side effects in various ways. One way is by adjusting its dosage. But they can also use other drugs to counter the side effects. You can also change the time when you take the meds. For instance, if it makes you lose your sleep, consider taking it in the morning. By the time you go to bed in the evening, the drug’s power will have subsided. If Zoloft makes you lose your appetite, you can eat your food and then take the meds.
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