Medically Approved

Can Zoloft (sertraline) cause nausea?


Optum Perks Author

By Optum Perks Author

Nausea is one of the potential side effects of the prescription antidepressant drug Zoloft. Zoloft is the brand name for the generic drug sertraline. 

Zoloft reportedly caused nausea in 26 percent of adults who took the drug during clinical trials. 

Read on to learn why Zoloft can cause nausea and how to cope with this common side effect. 

What is Zoloft? 

Zoloft is in a group of medicines called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. SSRIs work by increasing the activity of serotonin, a chemical in the brain.


The FDA has approved Zoloft as a treatment for:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Social anxiety disorder

Why does Zoloft cause nausea? 

When you take an SSRI like Zoloft, your serotonin levels increase. This stimulates serotonin receptors in the brain and gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This stimulation can cause GI-related symptoms like:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

How can you manage nausea? 

If you have any side effects while taking Zoloft, let your doctor know. They may be able to offer suggestions to help limit side effects. These might include:

  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals
  • Sucking on hard candy
  • Taking an antacid or anti-nausea medication
  • Sipping ginger tea or flat ginger ale

You can also talk with your pharmacist about taking Zoloft with food or taking it at bedtime.


It’s best not to make any changes to the way you take your medication, or take any additional over-the-counter (OTC) medications, without talking to your doctor first. 

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Zoloft side effects 

Zoloft has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.


While uncommon, Zoloft can cause severe side effects, such as an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or actions. If you experience severe side effects, call 911 or your local emergency number. If you’re having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

In addition to nausea, more typical side effects that Zoloft can cause include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue or sleeplessness
  • Nasal inflammation (stuffiness, runny nose)
  • Sexual dysfunction 

Seek immediate medical help if you show the symptoms of an allergic reaction after taking Zoloft. These include:

  • Skin rash
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of your face, throat, lips, or tongue

If you’re concerned about taking Zoloft, talk with your doctor about the possible side effects.


According to the National Health Service (NHS), it typically takes 4 to 6 weeks for sertraline to start working. Side effects are usually mild and will subside after a couple of weeks. It’s important to give the medication time to work, and to not stop taking it suddenly. Talk with your doctor before discontinuing any medication.


The antidepressant Zoloft can cause side effects. These are typically mild and will go away after a couple of weeks.


One of the more common side effects is nausea. If you experience nausea or any other side effects while taking Zoloft, talk with your doctor.