Sertraline HCl is used to treat depression,
panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a severe form of premenstrual syndrome
(premenstrual dysphoric disorder - PMDD). Sertraline works by helping to restore the balance of certain natural chemicals in the brain.
Sertraline belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin
reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Other drugs in this class are Prozac (fluoxetine),
Paxil (paroxetine), Celexa (citalopram) and Luvox (fluvoxamine).
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) produced by nerve
cells in the brain that is used by the nerves to communicate with one
another. Sertraline inhibits the reuptake of serotonin from the area between nerves (synapses).
The leading theory is that drugs such as sertraline restore the chemical
balance among neurotransmitters in the brain. Sertraline was approved by
the Food and Drug Administration in December, 1991.
SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects of sertraline are
sleepiness, nervousness, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, tremor, skin rash,
upset stomach, loss of appetite, headache, diarrhea, abnormal
ejaculation, dry mouth and weight loss. Important side effects are
irregular heartbeats, allergic reactions and activation of mania in
patients with bipolar disorder.
If sertraline is discontinued abruptly, some patients experience
symptoms such as abdominal cramps, flu like symptoms, fatigue and memory
impairment. Although this reaction is not well established, it is
reasonable to gradually reduce the dose when therapy is discontinued.
It has been suggested that SSRIs may cause depression to worsen and even
lead to suicide in a small number of patients. These potential side
effects are difficult to evaluate in depressed patients because
depression can progress with or without treatment, and suicide is itself
a consequence of depression. Moreover, the evidence supporting these
potential side effects is weak.