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What is sertraline used for?

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Quick Answer

Sertraline is a medication prescribed to treat depression, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, according to MedlinePlus. Sertraline is occasionally used to treat sexual problems and headaches.

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Full Answer

Sertraline is a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, according to MedlinePlus. It increases serotonin levels, helping the brain to maintain mental balance. Patients who take sertraline may experience unexpected mental health changes, such as suicidal thoughts, agitation, sleeping problems, extreme worry, irritability, hallucinating and frenzied excitement. Other serious side effects of sertraline include seizures, blurred vision, fever, confusion, fast or irregular heartbeat, and severe muscle stiffness. An immediate call to a doctor is recommended if any of these symptoms occur.

Taking sertraline may cause less serious side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea and gas or bloating, states MedlinePlus. Weight changes, loss of appetite, nervousness, sore throat, excessive sweating, and burning or tingling in the hands or feet may also occur. Reporting these side effects to a doctor is recommended only if they are severe or unrelieved. Because sertraline can cause dizziness, drowsiness and excessive fatigue, patients are advised to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery until they know how sertraline affects them.

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