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Zoloft Overdose

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Updated October 17, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Important Notes Before Reading:

If you suspect that you or someone you know has had a Zoloft overdose, please seek immediate medical attention.

If you are feeling suicidal, please contact your doctor, a suicide hot line, or emergency medical services for assistance.

What Is Zoloft?

Zoloft is a popular medication used in the treatment of major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and social anxiety disorder. It belongs to a class of antidepressants called serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

What Is Considered to Be an Overdose of Zoloft?

An individual's tolerance for a particular drug depends on several factors -- such as their age, body weight, general state of health, and whether they have consumed any other drugs along with it -- so it is not possible to generalize about whether a particular dosage of Zoloft will be harmful to any given person. It is very possible that one person will recover completely from a particular dose while another one has a fatal outcome with a much lower intake. However, if a person has consumed more than the dose recommended by their doctor, particularly if they are exhibiting signs of an overdose, it is wise to seek help.

What Are the Symptoms of a Zoloft Overdose?

The most common symptoms of Zoloft overdose include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Agitation
  • Shakiness

What Are the Possible Effects Following an Overdose?

Other medical consequences that have been occasionally reported following a Zoloft overdose include:

  • Heart problems
  • Coma
  • Convulsions
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Mania
  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Stupor
  • Fainting
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Death

Who Will Require Medical Assistance?

At times, a person may ingest more medication than what they have been prescribed, but they do not appear to be having any ill effects from it. Emergency room visits are expensive and they may be reluctant to go unless they know it is absolutely necessary. In a case like this, your local Poison Control Center is a good resource to use. Their staff are trained to assess your situation and provide advice. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can reach their toll-free national hotline at 1-800-222-1222.

What Information Should I Have Ready When I Call for Help?

If possible, when you are making your call to emergency services or Poison Control, it will be helpful if you have the following information available:

  • How much the person consumed (actual amount or your best guess)
  • Their prescribed dosage
  • The person's age/sex/weight
  • Amount of time since the drug was consumed
  • Any other drugs that were consumed with the Zoloft
  • Whether the person seemed to have an intention to commit suicide
  • The person's symptoms

How Is a Zoloft Overdose Treated?

If the overdose has been taken fairly recently, the patient may have their stomach pumped to remove any of the drug that has not yet been absorbed. Activated charcoal may also be administered to absorb any remaining medication in the stomach.

There is no known antidote for Zoloft, so treatment is primarily supportive in nature. The patient's heartbeat, breathing, and blood pressure will be carefully monitored and treatments given as needed to aid these vital functions until the patient has stabilized and no longer needs assistance. Treatments may also be administered to counteract other complications of the overdose, such as seizures.

Sources:

Medication Guide. Pfizer, Inc. Accessed: Feb. 1, 2012. http://www.zoloft.com

Nelson, Lewis S., et. al. "Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor poisoning: An evidence-based consensus guideline for out-of-hospital management." Clinical Toxicology, 45:4, 315-332.

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