How long does it take for Zoloft to take effect?

My husband started taking Zoloft (50mg) six days ago, and for the first few days it didn’t seem to have any effect. The past two nights he has had trouble sleeping, he says he wakes up and can’t go back to sleep because of “worrying about nothing” which is not typical of him.

Today at work he said his head feels “nervous and exhausted”, but said it’s just his head, he isn’t nervous or exhausted. Honestly, I’m not sure what that means, but I know SRI’s can make your head feel weird.

Is this normal? It seems like bad side effect that might indicate that this isn’t the right medication for him. He has not noticed any beneficial effects. Should he keep going in the hopes that this will get better, or take it as a bad sign and give up?

He can call his doctor and ask her tomorrow, but I am thinking maybe he shouldn’t take his next pill, which is due tonight (in the next 2 or 3 hours). I don’t want to overreact, though.

Anyone have any similar experiences?

Same experience -my head just did not feel right at all. I described it as a latent feeling of blasee.

Finally after a month on Zoloft I felt somewhat comfortable with just feeling odd - then I began to feel … neutral. I did not have any highs, or lows and was basically flat affect until I could not do it anymore and went to see my doc. He titrated me off the medication which was really not fun at all, because all the symptoms reversed and I was feeling shaky and afraid…that soon ended and I began a non-traditional campaign to not take SSRI’s and to self-medicate with jogging and working out. Turns out the more push-ups I did, and the longer I walked everyday the faster the weirdness went away and the better I felt.

Personally, I would not recommend Zoloft to anyone, especially for the side effects mentioned above. Also, for the person in the OP, I’d definitely take the next pill, and then consult the doc for a less intense med.

I bet the doc says stay on it for a month…and let it take effect - thats what happened to me.

They affect everyone completely differently, but typically doctors recommend that you stay on it for 6 weeks before making any decisions.

SSRI’s can take anywhere from a month to two months to take full effect, and can take about that long to taper off them when discontinuing them. If your husband is having problems until it takes effect, you might want to ask the doctor for a benzodiazapine like Xanax to take short term to bridge him till the SSRI is at full effectiveness.

I take Lexapro, but I had the same kinds of problems. It was rough when I first started, and I didn’t sleep but collectively about 4-5 hours a week during the first week or so. I had a serious emotional meltdown that lasted for a few hours. Then, suddenly, my meltdown was over. Within an hour, it was like it had never happened. I’ve been steadily improving ever since. My point is that given enough time, it’s possible you could ride out these side effects and they’ll go away. But if they continue, don’t hesitate to ask for a switch.

Your husband is much too early in his SSRI (zoloft) therapy to discern-one way or another-it’s effectiveness. A month’s time (at least) must be given before making any judgments or considerations of a new medication. While it’s true that all SSRI medications can affect people differently, you must give that medication a reasonable amount of time to prove or disprove it’s effectiveness legitimately.

I have personally taken Zoloft (50mg), for the better part of the last 10 years. It truly is a beneficial medicine. When I go off it, I become (after about 2 weeks-with titration) TERRIBLY moody and I snap at the smallest thing and I shift back and forth from terrible depression to irritable short-temperedness. I take the medicine because it allows me to be me. It doesn’t make me “neutral” or “numb” or take away my feelings or make me feel things any less; rather it seems to “straighten out” what was once the “roller-coaster” of my daily life. My hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute life.

I have been prescribed with zorloft.

I do not want anyone who is taking zorloft to read the spoiler.

[spoiler]In many trials, zorloft (sertraline) was no better than a placebo in treating depression and even in the ‘successful’ trials, placebos helped almost as much as the drug. Some researchers this meager increase is solely due to the side effects making it seem less like a placebo, breaking the double-blind trial.

However, paradoxically, just because it is a placebo, it doesn’t mean that it is ineffective, as depression is helped by anything that gives hope. Thus, sharing this information I’m giving you with him, would actually be counter-productive.


I would personally recommend that he learns more about cognitive behavioural therapy, either by reading a book, paying a therapist or using this free site from Australia National university [/spoiler]

Anist - I take Paxil and Remeron, with Ambien sometimes for sleep disorders. I agree that it can take a month or two to get your body used to the medicine. He’s probably not at the full dosage yet either. 50mg is starter dosage. His doctor will probably increase that level, but it can’t happen too quickly. It takes time to find the right level and then for everything to settle down.

You husband should not skip his dose. He should stay in close contact with his doctor while he adjusts to the new medicine. Insomnia is a side effect of some meds. He should bring that up at his next appointment.

It may be that Zoloft is not the right medicine for him or it maybe that he’ll be happier at a different dosage. Maybe he’d be happier on something else. But the only way to find out is to try. He should be kind to himself, the next few weeks, while he waits this out.

Namkcalb - There have been several studies that show that for people with mild or transient depression, anti-depressants don’t do that much good. However, in these studies, people with severe, unrelieved, cases of depression showed real improvement.

Could you spoiler this?
They have led to an improvement in symtoms in mild depression too. They aren’t useless in providing the hope depressed people need

I agree with those who said it’s far too early to judge. When I started taking it I didn’t feel any different for a couple of weeks, then things seemed to get “brighter”, if that makes sense. I felt sharper and clearer and didn’t have as much “crushing” despair. It did interfere with my sleeping, but that passed fairly quickly.
I also strongly recommend therapy of some kind. Although I no longer attend, it helped me come to grips with some long-standing issues and find new ways of dealing with stress. It can be very hard, especially if, like me, your husband isn’t one to talk about his feelings easily.
In all honesty, if it wasn’t for anti-depressants and the associated therapy, I doubt I’d be alive today.
Good luck to you both.

Well I’m sure anyone taking zorloft will take your “spoiler” suggestions with a grain of salt. But we’re talking about zoloft in this thread.

Antist - I’m here to back up the suggestions of others that he needs to give it at least another three to five weeks, with close supervision by his doctor, before he starts making any decisions about continuing or discontinuing the treatment.

He definitely should NOT be not taking doses. One lovely possible side effect of sertraline dose skipping or withdrawal is what are affectionately known as “brain zaps”. Imagine hitting turbulence on a plain, with that droppy-tingly-“Whoah!” feeling. Now imagine that feeling while you’re walking around the house, sitting at your desk at work, driving a car or just doing your own thing.


It may also be that his dose needs adjusting. 50mg is the base dose in most situations. Sometimes with SSRIs it’s about finding that sweet spot, and sometimes that does involve increasing the dosage - but again, that’s what discussions with his doctor will be about.

And it may not be the right SSRI for him. Some people go through a ton of different medications and dose strengths before they find one that’s right for them. It’s not a quick-fix, it’s a process, and it will take time.

[spoiler]sometimes fighting ignorance can hurt people, hence I hid information that might be detrimental.

I think your hostility may be due to your ignorance of scientific procedure.

A placebo is not the same as no treatment, I can’t remember the trial name, but when given no ‘treatment’, depressed people did not improve anywhere near as much as those who took a placebo or active drug.

A placebo quite simply is something that makes the test subject potentially believe they are being treated.

The placebo effect does exist for depression, and it is not unlikely that it might make up at least some of the theraputic effect of the drugs. It thus would be grossly unethical for me to blunder into threads and shout out anti-drugs propaganga if it could possibly influence treatment outcomes

The only reason I posted was to give the OP pointers on side effect free treatment.[/spoiler]

Namkcalb, I believe Sierra Indigo’s comment was based on your spelling… i.e. Woosh!.


@Sierra Indigo - my bad

Where I wrote on a plain, that is obviously meant to be on a plane.

Side effects like you are mentioning tend to subside once the drug actually starts taking effect. The proposed action of these drugs is that they actually increase your serotonin levels right away, but then it is your body adapting to that that actually works on the depression. Quite often, the increased serotonin actually makes you have racing thoughts or even anxiety.

Interestingly, if your main symptom of depression is lethargy or cloudy thinking, the above side effect can make you feel better until the real antidepressant effect kicks in.

Thanks for the feedback. He did skip taking it yesterday, and today his doctor said he shouldn’t worry about the missed dose but should start taking it again tomorrow morning, she thinks that taking it in the evening might have been part of his problem.

He drives a lot for his job, and I just worry about him being to sleepy during the day. He did sleep better last night. Hopefully taking it in the morning will do the trick.