Zoloft is the trade name of an antidepressant medication, Sertraline. Prozac is also an antidepressant and is the trade name of the drug Fluoxetine. These two prescription drugs are in the same class of antidepressants referred to as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They therefore share common usage, similar side effects, and Drug Interactions. There is no evidence to show that either of them works better than the other. The response of the patient is what may differ, as some may tolerate one drug and fail to respond to the other. Antidepressants treat:
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD);
- Generalized anxiety disorder;
- An eating disorder (Bulimia);
- Post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Premenstrual dysphonic disorder (a severe form of premenstrual syndrome);
- Panic attacks;
- Long term pains.
Antidepressants work by increasing the levels of a particular chemical in the brain called neurotransmitters. Increasing neurotransmitters like serotine and noradrenalin is what is believed to responsible for mood and behavior changes mainly in sleeping pattern, appetite, energy levels, and general interest in life. This will translate into a decrease in fear and anxiety, decrease binging behavior, and eliminate the urge to perform repeated tasks. The process of increasing neurotransmitters can disrupt pain signals that are usually sent by the nerves leading to the antidepressants being used to treat long term pains.
For both Zoloft and Prozac, the dosage is usually based on the medical condition being treated. In most cases, the dosage is once daily, usually in the morning. The doctor will most likely advice you to start with a low dose and gradually increase it in order to minimize the side effects. If you will need to take the medication twice per day, the physician could probably advice you a morning and noon dose. For patients using the antidepressants for premenstrual problems, the doctor may recommend a daily dose all month or for the two weeks prior to the onset of periods. The effects of the medicines will start to be felt after a week of usage, and the drugs will remain in the system for weeks after you stop using them.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Do not adjust or stop taking the medication without the doctor's consent.
Signs of overdose are dizziness and/or fainting. A serious overdose can result to inability to trouble breathing and passing out. If this happens, seek medical attention immediately.
- Inform your doctor of any history of bipolar, depressive disorder, or suicidal attempts in your family.
- Alert the doctor of any condition you may be having e.g., liver problem, diabetes, dehydration, stomach or intestinal ulcer, and low sodium in the blood. Other conditions that your physician must know before administering the antidepressants are personal or family history of glaucoma and the possibility of being pregnant.
- Be alert to the signs of a heart condition characterized by fast and irregular heartbeats, dizziness, and fainting that is referred to as QT prolongation. This condition can be brought about by the use of the antidepressants.
- Taking alcohol or marijuana with either Zoloft or Prozac will increase your chances of feeling dizzy and drowsy. Do not drive under this condition.
Common Side Effects
As earlier noted, Zoloft and Prozac are in the same class of antidepressants and therefore share the side effects that are likely to occur with their usage. Some adverse effects are common though mild and requiring no intervention. Some of these are:
- Loss of appetite;
Serious Side Effects
These are unusual but serious symptoms that should be addressed. They include:
- Easy bruising or bleeding;
- Tremors or shakiness;
- Weak muscles;
- A decreased sex drive;
- Changes in your sexual ability;
- Unexplained weight loss;
- Severe mood changes in the form of agitation, suicidal thoughts, and unusual excitement.
In extremely rare cases, there are other severe adverse reactions that you may experience from the use of the antidepressants. These symptoms should call for immediate doctor's intervention for further direction.
- Bloody or black stool;
- Vomit that may have the color of coffee grounds;
- Irregular heart beat;
- Vision changes;
- Eye pain, swelling, or redness that may or may not be accompanied by widened pupils;
- Signs of kidney problems noticeable in the amount and frequency of urination.
For diabetics, the blood sugar levels may be affected. Children using the drugs may be more sensitive to the side effects, especially of weight loss resulting from loss of appetite. For older adults, there will be the risk of coordination loss, bleeding, or a type of salt imbalance referred to as hyponatremia, especially for those who are using diuretics.
Drug Interactions can change the performance of a drug or raise the chances of side effects. Drugs that may interact with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors include:
- Antiarrhythmics e.g. Propafenon or Flecainide;
- Drugs that can cause bleeding. These include Clopidogrel, NSAIDs such as Brufen, and blood thinners like Warfarin. Aspirin can also increase the risk of bleeding. Tricyclic antidepressants e.g. Desipramine and Imipramine;
- Drugs that increase serotonin especially the street drug MDMA;
- MAO inhibitors can have very bad effects if used alongside Zoloft or Prozac. The results could even be fatal. The inhibitors are drugs like Linezolid, Moclobemide, Isocarboxazid, Phenelzine, Procarbazine, Selegiline, Safinamide, and Methylene blue;
- Drugs that can cause drowsiness, including alcohol, marijuana or any antihistamine;
- Drugs used to treat anxiety or sleep disorders like Alprazolam and Diazepam.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Use these drugs only if they are really needed. Using these medicines during your last trimester may cause the baby to experience withdrawal symptoms after birth. The symptoms may include excessive crying, feeding and breathing difficulties, muscle stiffness, or seizures. Zoloft and Prozac pass through breast milk and may affect the nursing baby.
Antidepressants that include Zoloft and Prozac can treat the symptoms of depression but will not address the causes. It's therefore advisable to use the drugs alongside therapy for a complete treatment of the mental conditions mainly caused by emotional distress.