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About sertraline

Sertraline is a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

It's often used to treat depression, and also sometimes panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Sertraline works by increasing the levels of a mood-enhancing chemical called serotonin in your brain.

It helps many people recover from depression, and has fewer unwanted side effects than older antidepressants.

Sertraline comes as tablets, which are available only on prescription.

Key facts

  • It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for sertraline to work fully, although you should start to feel better after 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Side effects such as feeling sick, headaches and trouble sleeping are common. They're usually mild and go away after a couple of weeks.
  • Sertraline can make you feel more or less hungry than usual, so you may lose or gain weight when you start taking it.
  • If you and your doctor decide to take you off sertraline, your doctor will recommend reducing your dose gradually to help prevent withdrawal side effects.
  • Sertraline will not change your personality, it will simply help you feel like yourself again.
  • Do not drink grapefruit juice while you're taking this medicine. Grapefruit juice can increase the amount of sertraline in your body and increase the risk of side effects.

Page last reviewed: 2 February 2022
Next review due: 2 February 2025