If you’ve recently been prescribed sertraline 25mg, you may have some lingering questions that your healthcare provider didn’t address.
It happens to the best of us. You’re trying to absorb the information provided to you, and your healthcare provider asks if you have any more questions. Shrugging, you say “I think I’m good!” — then an hour later, your list of questions is huge.
There are so many things we forget to ask our healthcare providers about when being prescribed a new medication. People can sometimes find themselves wondering what their dosage means, and how it compares to other medications. After all, many antidepressants are apples and oranges to one another — the dosing, side effects and more can all vary from pill to pill.
So what about sertraline? How much can you be prescribed, and if you’re getting 25mg, what does that mean?
Understanding your dosage, what it’s designed to do and what in particular it is designed to treat requires some background information, so let’s start there.
Before we get into the whole dosage thing, let’s just talk about sertraline.
Sertraline (the generic version of what you might know as Zoloft) is an antidepressant medication in the SSRI category. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are used in the treatment of psychiatric and mood disorders like depression to alter your brain’s serotonin levels.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter — basically a signaling molecule in your brain. Your brain makes a steady supply of it, and your neurons use it to balance your mood. Without it, you can hit those really low moments that people know as depressive episodes, among other negative moods.
The problem in some people’s brains is that their brain does almost too good of a job using up serotonin or getting rid of any “excess.” Sometimes it can mop up those extra serotonin molecules that are floating around, leaving you without a supply.
Antidepressant medications “fix” that by telling your brain to essentially put down the mop. This gives your brain more serotonin to work with, which can improve your mood.
We mentioned depressive disorder, but sertraline can also be used in the management of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), panic attacks, social anxiety disorder and even premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). But while it can be used for many types of depressive disorders, it should not be used for bipolar disorder, as it can increase your risk of manic episodes.
If that seems like a wide range of uses, well, it is. But it’s not the case that everyone will take the same dosage for the same medical condition. And that leads us back to our original question: what do you use 25mg sertraline for?
For the most part, doses of sertraline can go a lot bigger than 25mg. For instance, the typical initial dosage for someone with major depressive disorder or premenstrual dysphoric disorder is 50mg per day. For PMDD, this can be taken continuously or just during the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle.
The maximum dose can vary as well — between 100 and 200mg of sertraline can be taken daily for certain disorders.
But the comparably small 25mg dose can help treat some mental health issues. In most cases, it’s the initial dosage prescribed for conditions like panic disorder, PTSD or social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia).
Sertraline may also be used at 25mg as a pediatric dosage — children between six and 12 years of age can be started on a daily dose of 25mg per day to treat OCD (half of what’s normally prescribed for adults).
If you have moderate to severe anxiety, you may indeed see benefits from taking a low dose of sertraline.
In both cases, starting with 25mg is the common practice for an adult dosage, though keep in mind that the maximum daily dosage for both conditions is 200mg (eight times the starting dose). In other words, there’s a lot of room for dialing in the right dosage.
If you are having anxiety symptoms and are prescribed sertraline, you might find relief at a low dosage, but it’s often the case that a healthcare professional will have to adjust your daily dose up or down over time to give you the results you’re looking for.
It’s also important to reduce your dosage if you experience adverse effects that become intolerable or affect your quality of life. And there are many of these potential side effects that you should be aware of.
At a low dose, sertraline is likely to cause fairly mild side effects. Generally, this is the case with all antidepressants: the lower the dosage, the less likely you are to have side effects, and any side effects you experience will likely be less intense.
That said, you can certainly experience common side effects or adverse reactions from any medication at any dosage — and people do.
Side effects of sertraline can include a variety of physical and emotional issues. This isn’t a complete list, but you may experience any of the following from taking sertraline:
Fatigue and lower energy levels
If you experience any of the more serious side effects or signs of an allergic reaction below, contact a healthcare provider immediately and seek medical attention:
Eye pain or changes in vision
Rapid or irregular heart rate
Severe muscle stiffness
Loss of coordination
You should also contact a healthcare professional if your mild symptoms don’t go away after a few days. Frankly you should tell your healthcare provider about any side effects that reduce your ability to function or negatively impact your quality of life. Even at a low dose, medications like sertraline can simply affect certain people more intensely than others.
That means your risk of drug interactions, risk of serotonin syndrome and for other complications or adverse effects is never zero.
If you are experiencing side effects, trying to find the proper dosage of a medication or just generally trying to do the right things for your mental health, you shouldn’t do any of these things alone. As much as we love sharing this information with you, those hours of internet research you’re logging pale in comparison to the help you’ll get by just talking to a professional.
Whether you’re worried about taking 25mg of sertraline or wondering why you’re not seeing benefits, this is a conversation for you and a professional. If you’re not happy with your current healthcare provider, we can help you find someone you trust for medical advice.
It’s up to you whether you get that support with us or not, but even if it’s not with us, let us give you one starting dose of wisdom: you should talk to a healthcare provider today.
Kate Hagerty is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over a decade of healthcare experience. She has worked in critical care, community health, and as a retail health provider.
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