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How long does it take for Zoloft to work? What to expect when starting Zoloft

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Time to take effectUsesSide effectsWhen to takeZoloft and pregnancyWhen it is ineffectiveSummary
Antidepressants need time to be fully effective. You may not feel a difference immediately, but you will notice changes in the coming weeks and months as your body adjusts.
Medically reviewed by Monica Kean, PharmD
Written by Anisha Mansuri
Updated on

Zoloft is a brand-name medication of sertraline. It is an antidepressant that helps treat several conditions like major depression and panic attacks.

Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which helps to improve your overall mood by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that sends electrical impulses in the brain from one neuron to the next.

You may not feel a difference right away, but you will notice changes in the coming weeks and months as your body adjusts to the medication.

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How quickly does Zoloft start to work?

Person holding 2 pills in 1 hand a glass of water in the other to depict how long Zoloft takes to work.
Photography by Ljubaphoto/Getty Images

When beginning a new antidepressant, it may take some time for it to take effect. It’s important to know that this can vary for each individual.

It may take up to 2 weeks before you notice an improvement in your symptoms. However, it can also take between 4 and 6 weeks to feel the full effects of the medication.

If you have been taking Zoloft for longer than 6 weeks and have not noticed an improvement in your symptoms, consider speaking with a healthcare professional. They can increase your dosage or suggest a new antidepressant that may be more suitable for your needs.

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What conditions can Zoloft help with?

While Zoloft (sertraline) is commonly used to treat depression, it can also help treat the following conditions:

What are the side effects of Zoloft?

Zoloft is generally very well-tolerated, but it can lead to several side effects when you begin the medication. This is because your body needs some time to adjust to the drug.

Common side effects that may occur when beginning Zoloft include:

Consider speaking with a doctor if you experience any of these side effects. They can help work out whether your dosage needs lowering or a different medication may be more suitable.

In some instances, Zoloft can cause adverse side effects, such as seizures. If you experience a seizure, it is important to seek medical support immediately.

When is the best time to take Zoloft?

Zoloft should be taken once a day, either in the morning or evening. There is no best time to take the medication, but it can be a good idea to take it with food. This will help your body soak up the medication and prevent stomach upsets.

Some people often experience drowsiness as a side effect when taking Zoloft. In this case, taking the medication before bedtime can be beneficial.

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Is it safe to take Zoloft when you’re pregnant?

It is generally safe to take Zoloft while pregnant, but it may still carry some risks, as with taking any medication. Most studies show that the medication is unlikely to cause issues, such as abnormalities or heavy bleeding after giving birth (a postpartum hemorrhage). However, it may raise the risk of an early delivery or a low birth weight.

It is important to speak with a healthcare professional if you are pregnant and taking Zoloft. They can help you understand the risk factors and decide if it will be more beneficial for you to keep taking the medication or to stop. They can also speak with you about any alternative options to Zoloft.

What should I do if I think Zoloft isn’t working for me?

If it has been several weeks and you have not noticed an improvement in your depression symptoms, speak with a doctor. They may suggest increasing your dosage or offering you an alternative antidepressant, in which case they will need to wean you off the medication slowly to prevent any withdrawal symptoms.

It is important not to stop taking Zoloft without speaking with a doctor first, as this will likely cause withdrawal symptoms.


Sertraline, also known by its brand name Zoloft, is an antidepressant medication to help treat several conditions, such as major depression and panic attacks.

It can help improve symptoms of depression by increasing levels of serotonin in your brain. However, when you first begin taking the medication, you may experience several side effects.

Common side effects include:

  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth

It will usually take a few weeks before you begin to feel the full effects of Zoloft. However, if it has been several weeks and you are not noticing an improvement, consider speaking with a healthcare professional about your treatment options.

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