Zoloft Side Effects
Zoloft (setraline hydrochloride), a popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant drug, is used to treat depression, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and other mood and anxiety disorders. Initially approved by the FDA in 1991, it has since become one of the most prescribed antidepressants in the U.S. The drug has also been the subject of many lawsuits, however, because of serious Zoloft side effects like suicidal behavior and Zoloft birth defects.
Zoloft birth defects
More recent studies have linked the use of antidepressants with birth defects like congenital heart defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), and cleft lip/palate. One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2007) found that women who took Zoloft in the early months of pregnancy had twice the risk of giving birth to a child with a heart defect. A 2009 study published in the British Medical Journal linked the use of Zoloft with an increased risk of septal heart birth defects (hole in the heart), and a 2010 study published in The American Journal of Nursing again revealed a possible link between SSRI antidepressants and congenital heart defects.
A 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that infants born to mothers who took an SSRI antidepressant early in their pregnancies were six times more likely to have PPHN, a serious lung disorder. That same year, the FDA released a public health advisory warning physicians about the risks of PPHN when taking SSRI antidepressants like Zoloft during pregnancy.
Other potential Zoloft birth defects include omphalocele (abdominal wall defects), craniosynostosis (brain and skull growth problems), malformation of the anus, limb reduction defects, withdrawal symptoms after birth, and other heart defects like hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
Women who are pregnant or who want to become pregnant should talk to their healthcare providers about their use of Zoloft, and about potential alternatives. Women who were unaware of the risks of birth defects and then had a child with a Zoloft birth defect may be able to gain compensation for medical expenses in a court of law, as may others who have suffered serious side effects.
Several studies over the years have linked the use of antidepressants like Zoloft to a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Even manufacturer Pfizer’s study data showed that children using the drug were four times more likely to commit suicide than those not taking Zoloft. In 2004, the FDA required all SSRI antidepressants to include a warning that patients using it who had other psychiatric disorders had an increased risk of suicidal behavior. They also released a public health advisory encouraging physicians to watch for signs of worsening depression or suicidal thoughts, particularly in the first few weeks of using the drug.
Later that same year, the FDA required manufacturers of all antidepressant medications, including Zoloft, to add “black-box” warnings to the labels, alerting patients and physicians of the suicidal side effects in children and adolescents. Again in 2007, the FDA required all antidepressants to carry updated black-box warnings about the increase risk of suicidal behavior in young adults ages 18 to 24.
Minor side effects
Common side effects associated with Zoloft since the date of its approval include nausea, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, loss of appetite, increased sweating, allergic reactions, upset stomach, and insomnia. In addition, some rare, yet more serious side effects include easy bruising/bleeding, decreased interest in sex, decreased sexual performance, muscle cramps or weakness, shaking and tremors, or unusual weight loss.