How Long Does It Take for Zoloft to Work on Your Depression?
In the United States, the number of people who take antidepressants went up almost 400% from 1988 to 2008. Between 1999 and 2014, the number of people taking an antidepressant increased by 65%.
Many of these people take Zoloft, the branded name for Sertraline. By 2017, 37 million people in the United States had prescriptions for sertraline. It ranked 14th in medications prescribed in the country.
But, what is this medication? And how long does it take for Zoloft to work?
Taking medication for your mental health is a huge decision. And if you’ve only recently started to take one, you might have a few questions about what’s going on in your body. For example: when will I feel it?
Follow along for a helpful guide about Zoloft that will put your mind at ease.
What Is an SSRI?
SSRI stands for “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor”. SSRI’s are prescribed as antidepressants. However, they can also treat other types of mental health issues and disabilities.
Serotonin is a vital chemical and neurotransmitter in our brain. This chemical helps us to maintain a healthy mood, appetite, and digestion. It also helps regulate our sleeping habits, memory, and sexual desire.
What an SSRI does is block the reabsorption of serotonin into neurons. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, and SSRIs maintain that role of serotonin before it is reabsorbed.
This keeps serotonin in our brain longer, causing our brain to produce more of it. Then, once we have more serotonin, our brain’s signaling system works better and helps us maintain a positive mood.
How Long Does It Take for Zoloft to Work?
When a person first takes an SSRI, their serotonin levels increase in only a few hours. But when we ask, “How long until Zoloft is working?” what we’re really asking is, “How long until we feel Zoloft working?”
Despite the fast jump in serotonin levels, the increase in mood isn’t felt right away. Instead, it takes weeks for us to notice a difference.
The chemicals in our brain change almost immediately, but our bodies need time to adjust. Our bodies can’t let us know there’s a difference until a few things happen inside our brains for us to be able to feel it.
To understand why that’s the case, we have to answer a few other questions.
What Is Zoloft?
Zoloft is a brand-name SSRI whose generic name is sertraline.
The development of Zoloft began many years ago, in the 1970s. By 1991, Zoloft became approved by the FDA for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in adults. In 2002, it was also approved by the FDA to treat people under 18.
Zoloft increases serotonin levels in the brain by doing two things:
- Blocking serotonin from being re-absorbed away from its site of action
- Triggering an increase in the production of receptors that respond to serotonin in the brain
These new receptors are why it takes up to eight weeks for us to feel the change brought by Zoloft. Our brain has to build and install these new receptors in order to fully register the increased levels of serotonin, and this takes a while to occur.
How Does Zoloft Work?
One of the first ways sertraline takes effect is through halting physical symptoms. Here are some of the first changes a person might feel when they take Zoloft:
- Improved sleep patterns
- Positive change in energy levels
- Improved appetite
These physical changes can serve as a good sign that the medicine is doing its job.
It might take up to 6-8 weeks for internal symptoms to improve. Internal symptoms include mood-based symptoms, like depressed feelings or lack of interest.
The 6-8 weeks is due to the way this medication changes our brain. While this drug releases more serotonin in hours, it takes time for our brain to build new ways to receive it. This building time is not felt, but it’s an important first part for us to eventually notice the difference.
What Is Zoloft Used For?
Healthcare providers prescribe Zoloft to treat several different things:
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)
Depression is the most common use. To better understand Zoloft, it’s helpful to also better understand MDD.
Common Symptoms of Depression (MDD):
Due to the fact that many people experience depression, there are also many symptoms associated with depression. Here are the most common:
- Depleted mood, including feeling sad, empty, or over-emotional
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, and helplessness
- Loss of interest in things previously liked or loss of pleasure in normal activities
- Dramatic changes in sleep quantity and quality
- Dramatic changes in eating habits (loss of appetite, or over-eating)
- Low or depleted energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Feeling like you are moving or thinking in slow motion
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
If you or someone you know experience any combination of these symptoms, it’s important to talk with a healthcare provider about it.
What to Do If You Think Medication Is Right for You
Maybe you were just wondering, “how long does it take for Zoloft to work?” Or, maybe you needed a little bit more information overall. Hopefully, your mind is a little more at ease now that you understand more about it.
There are a lot of people in the United States who take antidepressants, and many of them take Zoloft. Because of that, there are a lot of resources for obtaining it, once you have been prescribed it by your healthcare provider.
Buying medication online is a great way to make this intense process a bit easier on yourself. As you’re taking the next steps, be sure to check out this guide on how to safely buy medication online.