Zoloft Side Effects
Zoloft, or sertraline hydrochloride, is a popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a type of antidepressant drug. Zoloft is used to treat social anxiety disorder, depression, panic disorder, and other mood and anxiety disorders. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Zoloft in 1991, and since that time it has become one of the most prescribed antidepressant drugs in the United States.
Zoloft is associated with a wide range of side effects, including birth defects, suicide and suicidal thoughts. Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft, has been the subject of many lawsuits due to these serious Zoloft side effects.
Zoloft Birth Defects
Zoloft is linked to increased risk of several birth defects, including persistent pulmonary hypertension of a newborn (PPHN), congenital heart defects, and cleft lip and cleft palate.
In 2006, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study demonstrating that mothers taking SSRI antidepressants during early pregnancy were six times more likely to give birth to children with PPHN. That same year, the FDA issued a public warning regarding the risks of PPHN when taking SSRI antidepressants during pregnancy.
In 2007, the New England Journal of Medicine published another study, which found that women taking Zoloft during their first trimester had twice the risk of giving birth to a child with heart defects. In 2009, a study in the British Medical Journal showed that Zoloft is linked to an increased risk of septal heart defects, which occur when infants have holes in the chambers of their hearts. In 2010, a study published in the American Journal of Nursing revealed that there may be a link between SSRI antidepressants and congenital heart defects.
Zoloft birth defects also include omphalocele, a condition characterized by abdominal wall defects; malformation of the anus; craniosynostosis, which are brain and skull growth defects; Zoloft withdrawal after birth; limb reduction defects; and heart defects including hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should speak with their doctors before beginning or continuing use of Zoloft. Women who were unaware of the risk associated with Zoloft use during pregnancy, and gave birth to children with Zoloft birth defects, may qualify for compensation in a court of law.
Zoloft and similar antidepressants also exhibit proven links to a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. In fact, a study by Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft, showed that children taking Zoloft were four times more likely to commit suicide than those not taking the medication.
In 2004, the FDA required that all SSRI antidepressants carry a warning for patients with other psychiatric disorders, clarifying that the use of these drugs had an increased risk of suicidal behavior. The FDA also issued a public health advisory and asked healthcare providers to monitor patients for suicide warning signs or worsening depression, especially during the first few weeks of treatment.
Also in 2004, the FDA ordered all manufacturers of antidepressant drugs, including Zoloft, to add “black-box” warning to their drug labels. These warnings alerted medical professionals and patients alike to the possible suicidal side effects in children and adolescents. In 2007, the organization required antidepressant medications to carry an additional warning regarding risk of suicidal behavior in young adults aged 18 to 24.
Minor Zoloft side effects
In addition to Zoloft birth defects and suicidal behaviors, the antidepressant may cause allergic reactions, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, increased sweating, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, and upset stomach. Rarely, more serious side effects include decreased libido, decreased sexual performance, easy bruising/bleeding, muscle cramps or weakness, shaking and tremors, and unusual weight loss.