Depression is one of the most common mental conditions in America. It is estimated that over 16 million Americans suffer from at least one depressive episode in a given year. It is not surprising then that according to the stats released by the federal government, about one in ten Americans takes antidepressants.
Among the many brand name and generic antidepressant drugs in the market, the most popular is Zoloft. Zoloft, which is a brand name of the generic drug Sertraline, belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of drugs. The drug works by increasing the serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the key hormone that is responsible for regulating mood, happiness, and overall well-being.
For people who have been prescribed Zoloft or are planning to take the drug, you might be wondering whether Zoloft works immediately. Can you expect instant relief from Zoloft? How long will it take for Zoloft to work? To answer these questions, we will further talk about what Zoloft is used for, how it is used for treatment, and how long it takes for it to take effect.
What is Zoloft used for?
Zoloft is often prescribed as the first line of treatment for depression. Unlike drugs like benzodiazepines, it is considered to have lower abuse potential. Aside from depression, the drug is also prescribed to treat other conditions such as anxiety, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Because Zoloft improves the serotonin levels in the brain, it could help boost your mood, energy, appetite, and sleep. It could also lessen your feelings of anxiety, fear, unwanted thoughts, and panic attacks. Eventually, it could help you regain your interest in the things you normally do day-to-day. It could also help you reduce obsessive-compulsive actions.
Is Zoloft effective immediately?
Because Zoloft is one of the most prescribed antidepressants, there is a misconception that the effects are immediate. Zoloft is not like other drugs wherein you could feel an immediate effect upon taking the drug within minutes or a few hours.
If you are suffering from depression, you could feel some improvement in your energy, sleep, and mood in about 1 to 2 weeks. This is usually a sign that the drug is indeed working. However, you may need around 6 to 8 weeks of taking the medication before you can fully improve. It is then very important to continue taking the drug as prescribed by your doctor. Just because you feel some improvement within the first two weeks does not necessarily mean that you’re treated. You should seek advice from your doctor before stopping the medication.
For people who are taking Zoloft for social anxiety, an improvement could also be felt within the first two weeks. You could continue taking the drug for up to six weeks or up to the period your doctor prescribed it for. If you have been taking Xanax, a popular anti-anxiety drug, you should take note that Zoloft is very different. Unlike Xanax where you could feel the effects within one to two hours, Zoloft is meant for a longer course of treatment.
Zoloft abuse and treatment
While Zoloft is considered to have a lower risk of abuse, there are still cases wherein Zoloft is being abused or taken as a recreational drug. For a person with a Zoloft prescription or those who have access to the drug (medicine cabinets at home, family members with a Zoloft prescription), it might be easier to try abusing whatever drug is available rather than looking for other prescription meds like opioids or benzos.
The problem, however, is that since the effects of Zoloft is not immediate, people who are looking to get high on the medication try to ingest multiple pills to feel a sedative effect. What’s more alarming is that some people mix Zoloft with other substances like alcohol or opioids in an attempt to intensify the drug’s effects. Mixing Zoloft with other substances or taking too much of the drug could lead to risky side effects and it could even result in an overdose.
It is also possible to be psychologically dependent or addicted to Zoloft, even if you start taking the drug with a legitimate prescription. Some patients take Zoloft longer than the period prescribed by the doctor or they take a higher dosage thinking that this could hasten the effect of the drug. This, however, could quicken your body’s tolerance to the drug, and instead of it working effectively, taking too much of the drug could lead to a drug overdose.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, help is available.
Contact Anaheim Lighthouse today.