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When is the best time to take sertraline (Zoloft)?

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When to take itWhat is sertraline?Side effectsTips for taking sertralineFAQSummary
Zoloft is a branded antidepressant medication. Usually, you should take it once per day — when you wake up or before you go to sleep — depending on your schedule.
Medically reviewed by Alisha D. Sellers, BS Pharmacy, PharmD
Written by Lily Frew
Updated on

Sertraline is a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It’s the generic form of the branded drug Zoloft, and it can treat a variety of depression and anxiety disorders, among other things.

The best time to take it depends on you, your schedule, and how you react to the medication. There is no one best time to take it as long as you follow the prescribing doctor’s instructions.

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When is the best time to take it?

A young adult looking pensive out of a window, wondering when is the best time to take Zoloft.

Typically, your doctor will recommend that you take your prescribed dose of sertraline once a day, either in the morning or evening. If sertraline makes you drowsy, your doctor may suggest that you take it at bedtime.

It’s important to be consistent when and how you take the medication.

What is sertraline?

Sertraline is a prescription antidepressant sold under the brand name Zoloft. It’s in the class of drugs known as SSRIs. SSRIs increase the activity of serotonin, a chemical in the brain. Serotonin is involved in regulating sleep, mood, memory, and learning.

Sertraline is used to treat various conditions, including:

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What are the side effects of sertraline?

You may experience side effects when taking Zoloft. These include:

  • headaches
  • heartburn
  • nausea and diarrhea
  • decreased appetite or weight loss
  • unusual drowsiness
  • trouble sleeping
  • nervousness
  • decreased sexual ability or desire

Less common side effects include fever, racing heartbeat, nosebleeds, or sudden loss of consciousness.

Although many side effects may go away with time, if you experience side effects while taking sertraline, let your doctor know. They may suggest a dosage change, a change from sertraline to another medication, or an additional medication to address the side effects.

Tips for taking sertraline

  1. Don’t take sertraline with grapefruit. According to research evidence, grapefruit increases the amount of sertraline in your blood. This can lead to unwanted side effects.
  2. Avoid drug interactions. Tell your doctor about any other medications you’re currently taking. Sertraline can interact with other drugs and cause serious health issues. Some drugs that may have negative interactions with Zoloft include anticoagulants, other antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and amphetamines.
  3. Don’t expect immediate results. For most people, it takes up to 8 weeks to feel Zoloft’s full effects.
  4. Be ready for side effects. You might not experience any side effects, but if you do, discuss them with your doctor.
  5. Make sure your doctor knows about pre-existing conditions. They may not recommend Zoloft if you’re pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant, or breast- or chestfeeding. They also might make specific suggestions regarding using Zoloft if you have epilepsy, glaucoma, diabetes, or a heart condition.
  6. Take it with or without food. Either way works, but it’s best to establish a routine and follow it every time you take sertraline.
  7. Try not to miss a dose. If you do forget to take a dose, take the missed dose as soon as possible. However, if you’re getting close to the time for your next dose, wait and take your next dose at its scheduled time. Do not take 2 doses at the same time.
  8. Do not stop the medication abruptly. According to a 2019 study, 56% of people who try to stop using antidepressants experience withdrawal effects. With sertraline, withdrawal can begin 3–4 days after your last dose and last a few days, a week, or longer.


Several common questions might come up if you’re prescribed Zoloft.

Will I experience side effects?

Everyone reacts to medications differently, and while some people may experience some side effects, some don’t experience any or notice only mild effects.

You can speak with a doctor if you have any concerns about side effects, and they may advise you to try a different option.

When should I take it?

You can take Zoloft at a time that works for you, usually once per day, depending on the doctor’s instructions. Taking it at the same time every day can help you build a habit and reduce the chances of you missing a dose.

What alternatives are there?

If Zoloft doesn’t work for you, you might consider trying other SSRIs like fluoxetine (Prozac) or fluvoxamine (Luvox).

You can also try other antidepressants like serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like venlafaxine (Effexor) or atypical antidepressants like bupropion (Wellbutrin).

Should I take it with food?

It doesn’t matter if you take Zoloft with food or not. If you always take it at mealtimes, this could be a good way to get into a routine of taking your medication at the same time.

You should bear in mind that you should avoid grapefruit when taking sertraline.


Your doctor will most likely recommend a once-a-day dosage of sertraline (Zoloft). You can take it either in the morning or evening, depending on your lifestyle and any side effects you experience. For example, if sertraline makes you drowsy, taking it at night might be your best choice.

It’s important that you establish a set time to take this medication every day and follow that schedule so that you don’t miss any doses.

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