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NHS Sertraline for Anxiety and Depression

What is Sertraline for anxiety or depression?

This information is not a medical recommendation, suggestion or guidance. Always consult your GP before changing medication (starting, stopping, changing dose).

If stopping sertraline, always do it slowly.

Sertraline is often prescribed by the NHS for anxiety, depression, panic attacks, OCD and PTSD.

Sertraline doses of 25mg, 50mg or 100mg are typically recommended by GPs.

UK NHS and NICE recommend Sertraline and antidepressant drugs for severe depression, or for less severe depression if CBT therapy (aka "talking therapies") has not helped the individual, or if the individual requests medication.

Medically, sertraline is a type of "Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor" (SSRI).

SSRIs prevent brain cells from absorbing serotonin, so there is more between cells to influence positive communications between brain cells.

It usually takes four to six weeks for the effects of sertraline to be fully felt.

When starting sertraline, feelings may fluctuate up or down. It takes time to start working properly.

GPs will normally advise increasing or decreasing the dose of sertraline slowly, so that your body has time to adjust.

Suddenly stopping medication can have severe side effects.

The NHS suggests people do not drink grapefruit juice when taking sertraline, as this increases level of sertraline and increases the risk of side effects.

Always consult a qualified medical practitioner for advice about drugs.

Can diet and nutrition increase serotinin levels?

Research from 2013 on diet, serotonin and depression suggests that eating foods that are high in serotonin ("5-HT") such as certain fruits and vegetables are not easily accessible to the brain, due to our "blood brain barrier" which is like a sieve that keeps unwanted chemicals out of the brain.

However, tryptophan, which the brain transforms into serotonin, can pass through the blood brain barrier.

Foods high in tryptophan, such as eggs, cheese, pineapple, tofu, salmon and nuts may help with depression.

The latter in the list can also help with blood pressure and cholesterol, associated with cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

Researchers note that depression may also involve other chemicals.

More research is required, because science just doesn't fully understand yet.

8 Potential Side Effects of Sertraline

As with any medication, there is the posibility of side effects.

Some people may experience worsening symptoms for the first few weeks of treatment. This normally reduces after a few weeks.

Common side effects of Sertraline include:

  1. Nausea - some people feel sick. They may also feel more or less hungy than normal.
  2. Headaches - even when well hydrated and relaxed.
  3. Insomnia - difficulties sleeping, getting to sleep or staying asleep.
  4. Drowsiness - feeling sleepy, even though sleep may feel difficult.
  5. Diarrhoea - suddenly needing the toilet, like with IBS.
  6. Dry mouth - feeling thirsty even if you've just had a drink of water.
  7. Feeling dizzy - it may feel like the room is spinning.
  8. Exhaustion - feeling weak or tired and lacking energy.
  9. If you are concerned about your health or side effects, always consult your GP.

Research into Sertraline for Depression

Research into the use of Sertraline for depression was performed by Dr Gemma Lewis and team, from the University College of London, with a report published in 2019.

They compared 266 patients on sertraline, with 284 patients not on sertraline.

They concluded that sertraline had not reduced the depression, but had helped other symptoms.

They "found no evidence that sertraline led to a clinically meaningful reduction in depressive symptoms at 6 weeks."

But, they did find evidence that sertraline led to reduced anxiety symptoms, better mental (but not physical) health-related quality of life, and self-reported improvements in mental health.

There is the potential that improving secondary symptoms could help with the primary symptom in the longer term.

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What is Sertraline? NHS Medication for Anxiety and Depression that may have side effects.