Sertraline (Zoloft) for Depression

Sertraline is one of the best antidepressants for depression. There is evidence-based, unbiased proof that it is a worthy antidepressant choice.

Recently researchers analyzed and compared 12 new-generation antidepressants1. They found out that the most effective and best tolerated as first-line treatments are sertraline (Zoloft) and escitalopram (Lexapro).

Important advantages:

  • Lower risk of weight gain than with citalopram and paroxetine 3.
  • Low potential of interactions.
  • Best documented cardiovascular safety of any antidepressant, proven safe for depressed patients with recent myocardial infarction or angina.

Sertraline success rate

More than 70% depressed patients benefit from treatment with sertraline 6, 7.

Sertraline was found to be more effective than duloxetine by 30%, fluoxetine by 25%, and paroxetine by 25%1. However, the findings don't mean that everyone should start from Zoloft.

Sertraline and postpartum depression

Depression after pregnancy is called postpartum depression. This type of depression occurs in 10 to 15% of women within the first 3 months after giving birth.

Sertraline is often used to treat postpartum depression because it appears in breast milk in small amounts and is usually not detected in infants5. In fact, it is the most widely studied and safest antidepressant in breast-feeding women.

Immediate postpartum period is a high-risk time for depression, especially in women who have had previous depressive episodes. One study found that sertraline is effective in preventing postpartum depression4.

How long does it take for Sertraline to work?

The time it takes for sertraline to start working varies from person to person. Improvement may not be seen for several days to a few weeks.

With the dose 50 mg/day improvement in symptoms is noted after 6 weeks in about 20% of patients and with the dose 100 mg/day improvement is noted after 4 weeks in about 40% of patients2.


See also


  • 1. Cipriani A, Furukawa TA, Salanti G, Geddes JR, et al. Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 12 new-generation antidepressants: a multiple-treatments meta-analysis. The Lancet. 2009 Feb 28;373(9665):746-58.
  • 2. Suri RA, Altshuler LL, Rasgon NL, Calcagno JL, Frye MA, et al. J Clin Psychiatry. 2000 Dec;61(12):942-6.
  • 3. Maina G, Albert U, Salvi V, Bogetto F. Weight gain during long-term treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a prospective comparison between serotonin reuptake inhibitors. J Clin Psychiatry. 2004 Oct;65(10):1365-71
  • 4. Wisner KL, Perel JM, Peindl KS, Hanusa BH, Piontek CM, Findling RL. Prevention of postpartum depression: a pilot randomized clinical trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2004 Jul;161(7):1290-2.
  • 5. Epperson N, Czarkowski KA, Ward-O'Brien D, Weiss E, Gueorguieva R, Jatlow P, Anderson GM. Maternal sertraline treatment and serotonin transport in breast-feeding mother-infant pairs. Am J Psychiatry. 2001 Oct;158(10):1631-7. PubMed
  • 6. Aberg-Wistedt A, Agren H, Ekselius L, Bengtsson F, Akerblad AC. Sertraline versus paroxetine in major depression: clinical outcome after six months of continuous therapy. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2000 Dec;20(6):645-52.
  • 7. Ventura D, Armstrong EP, Skrepnek GH, Haim Erder M. Escitalopram versus sertraline in the treatment of major depressive disorder: a randomized clinical trial. Curr Med Res Opin. 2007 Feb;23(2):245-50. PubMed

Author: OriginalDrugs Team
Last reviewed: February, 2015

Quick facts


  • Sertraline is the only antidepressant approved in the UK for the prevention of recurrence of depression.
  • Australian doctors have made Zoloft their first-choice antidepressant since 1996.