What Is Zoloft Used For?
Zoloft is part of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs for short. SSRIs, such as Zoloft, act on a specific chemical within the brain known as serotonin. Serotonin is one of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another.
As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release serotonin. The serotonin enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it. When enough serotonin reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any serotonin that remains in the gap between cells. This is called "reuptake."
Normally, this process works without any problems. But when the levels of serotonin become unbalanced, it can cause a variety of conditions such as depression and panic disorder. Zoloft helps to block the reuptake of serotonin so more serotonin remains in the space between the brain's nerve cells. This gives the serotonin a better chance of activating the receptors on the next nerve cell.
Zoloft has been approved to treat children with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Zoloft has not been licensed to treat children with depression or other psychiatric conditions. Talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using Zoloft in children.
On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend Zoloft for something other than the conditions listed above. This is called an "off-label" use. At this time, there are several off-label Zoloft uses, including the treatment of:
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Eating disorders (including anorexia and bulimia)
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Hot flashes
- Migraine headaches (see Zoloft and Migraines)
- Personality disorders
- Premature ejaculation (see Zoloft for Premature Ejaculation)
- Tourette syndrome.