Sertraline or Zoloft is one of the most prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) on the market used for depression.
As with any medication, while many people have responded positively to Zoloft, others have experienced various complications. Due to these complications, many people decide to quit using this medication altogether. However, many fail to ask themselves, “How long does Zoloft stay in your system?” Withdrawal from Zoloft (sertraline) can be a difficult process without the help of a medical detox center, so there are several important points that a person needs to know.
How Zoloft Works
Zoloft is the brand name for the antidepressant sertraline, which comes as a tablet or liquid medication. Specifically, Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It works by preventing the reuptake of serotonin in the brain, increasing a person’s mood, sleep, and appetite while decreasing compulsive behaviors, anxiety symptoms, and panic attacks.
Zoloft is commonly used to treat conditions like:
- Major depressive disorder (MDD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Social anxiety disorder
Zoloft blocks the reabsorption or uptake of serotonin. This is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate your mood, memory, and learning. It plays a significant role in people with depression, OCD, and anxiety, often because these individuals either have serotonin levels that are too low or too high. Serotonin is particularly associated with positive feelings, so much so that it’s often referred to as the “happy” chemical.
Unfortunately, antidepressants like sertraline are also often abused or taken with alcohol. Because this drug increases serotonin levels to produce a happy or pleasurable feeling, many people take it in large doses to get high. They may also mix Zoloft and alcohol to produce an even more intense “buzz,” which can be deadly. Those who abuse antidepressants or other medications risk developing a drug addiction and may find themselves in need of prescription drug addiction treatment.
How Long Does It Take for Zoloft to Kick In?
It usually takes about two to six weeks for Zoloft to kick in. Like most antidepressants, sertraline can cause side effects. After a week or two, these Zoloft side effects may occur:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Change in weight
- Decreased appetite
Some more serious but less common symptoms of sertraline include:
- Bruising or abnormal bleeding
- Loss of coordination
- Memory loss
- Shortness of breath
It is also possible to overdose on Zoloft. When you take a larger dose than prescribed, take it more often than directed, or mix it with other substances like medications or alcohol, you risk intoxicating the body. This often occurs in people who take this drug in search of a Zoloft high. However, abusing this drug can not only increase your risk of serious side effects like hallucinations and seizures, but it also increases your risk of serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome occurs when there’s a build-up of serotonin in the body. This is most common in people who take other medications with their SSRIs, such as other antidepressants, certain pain or headache medications, and St. John’s wort supplement.
Signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome include anxiety, sweating, confusion, agitation, tremors, lack of coordination, restlessness, and rapid heart rate. If these symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately. If you realize that someone frequently experiences serotonin syndrome or the other side effects of sertraline listed above, they may require a partial hospitalization program to recover from their addiction.
How Long Does Sertraline Stay In Your System?
If you’re wondering, “How long does Zoloft stay in your system?” the first thing you have to consider is Zoloft’s half-life. A drug’s half-life refers to the amount of time it takes half of the drug to leave a person’s system. The half-life of Zoloft is 24 to 26 hours, which means that it can take roughly a day for half of the drug to be eliminated from their blood. In another 24 hours, the amount of sertraline in the person’s body will decrease to 25% or half of the amount that remained. In urine, Zoloft can remain for about nine days. However, sertraline also contains a metabolite called desmethylsertraline, which has a half-life of 66 hours, meaning traces of Zoloft could remain in a person’s body for much longer than a few days. Moreover, how long for Zoloft to leave your system also depends on factors like the dose taken, weight, age, and metabolism. Doses for Zoloft (sertraline) range between 50 milligrams (mg) to 200 mg, and it’s usually only taken once a day. Taking a higher dose than prescribed or taking it more frequently than directed can impact how long Zoloft stays in your system.
At Banyan Treatment Centers Massachusetts, we understand that many people may also misuse or abuse their prescription drugs. This increases the risk of addiction as well as other physical complications like cardiovascular disease and liver and kidney damage. If you or someone you know is struggling to control their use of prescription drugs, it’s time to get help. Call Banyan Massachusetts today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our drug and alcohol treatment.