What Are the Serious Side Effects of Zoloft®?
At the beginning of the Medication Guide for Zoloft® is a boxed warning about the drug's potential to cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors. These were seen in short-term studies in children and adolescents with major depressive disorder. These symptoms also were seen in this group of patients with other psychiatric disorders.
The warning tells parents, caregivers and doctors that this risk of using Zoloft® or any other antidepressant in a child, adolescent or young adult (up to about 24 years old) needs to be carefully balanced against the patient's need. When patients start taking Zoloft® they should be closely watched for side effects like worsening depression, indications of suicidal behavior or thinking, or other unusual behavioral changes.
The Medication Guide says the FDA has not approved the use of Zoloft® in children except in those with obsessive-compulsive disorder. There also is the possibility that Zoloft® can increase depression and suicidal tendencies in adults.
Patients whose systems contain too much serotonin face the possibility of having serotonin syndrome. Patients simultaneously taking more than one drug that increases the amount of serotonin in the body, such as Zoloft® and a triptan (like some migraine medications), are at an increased risk of serotonin syndrome.
This life-threatening condition causes changes in one's mental status, autonomic (control of unconscious body functions such as heart rate and breathing) instability, neuromuscular abnormalities (problems with the brain directing the action of muscles) and gastrointestinal (stomach and intestines) symptoms.
Serious Effects: Risk of Birth Defects
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety warning that fetuses exposed to Zoloft® during the mother's third trimester of pregnancy have six times the risk of being born with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) compared to newborns whose mothers did not take the drug. PPHN is a significant cause of serious illness and death in newborns.
Other birth defects have been linked to taking Zoloft® and similar drugs while pregnant as well. To learn more, contact a Zoloft® birth defect lawyer.