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Zoloft Alternatives: Switching From Zoloft to OTC Antidepressants

zoloft alternatives

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In the past few years, the use of antidepressants has skyrocketed with one in six Americans taking these drugs. Among these, Zoloft is one of the most used antidepressants and with the rise in the intake of this drug, the uncomfortable side effects patients might experience and some other personal reasons, it all comes down to this question: is it possible to switch from Zoloft medication?
To answer that question, people respond to different antidepressants differently so what works for one person might not work for others. BMC Psychiatry research has proven that almost half of the people with depression need a different type of antidepressant than their originally prescribed medication. It might take several tries and effort find one that works best for each patient finally. So yes, it is possible to have alternatives.

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Table of Contents

Reasons to Look For Zoloft Alternatives

There are various reasons people decide to look for Zoloft alternatives to treat their conditions and disorders both personally and professionally, but let us look over the three main factors:

Side Effects

This factor is common to all the antidepressants out there, and they can be serious enough to make patients stop taking Zoloft pills or change their prescription. Sertraline adverse effects can remotely affect people when they take the drug, for example, Zoloft can cause weight gain, but side effects can disappear when they take another antidepressant. Sometimes, these side effects trigger the decision to avoid Zoloft and find another way to manage their stress or conditions.

High-Risk Groups

Another factor that can make people avoid Zoloft or find an alternative to antidepressants is because they fall into the category of high-risk groups. Reasons like age can be a huge factor when it comes to finding Zoloft alternatives, if a patient is over the age of 65, it is advisable to keep off Zoloft as it can increase chances of fractures and falls. Another risk factor for women is getting pregnant on Zoloft, because the use of SSRIs late in parturiency can significantly affect and lead to short-term sertraline withdrawal symptoms in newborns.

Suicide Risks

For some people, antidepressants like Zoloft can cause an increase in the symptoms of depression instead of the other way around. Study by the FDA shows that people who use Zoloft, especially young adults and children, have increased risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts and should be watched closely. They even went on to include all drugs like Zoloft, a warning label about the risks of suicide. So if anyone doesn’t want to handle the risks of suicidal thoughts, they should avoid a dose of Zoloft and find alternatives. Suicide is a serious problem facing the community as a whole, If anyone is experiencing any sign or suicidal thoughts, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately!

Drugs Similar to Zoloft

Prozac (Fluoxetine)

young woman is choosing a medicationJust like Zoloft, this drug is also useful in treating anxiety disorders and depression. But there are some differences between Zoloft and Prozac. Prozac it is more energizing, so it is good for people who get tired easily or children. Prozac takes at least one or two weeks to show improvement and up to twelve weeks for maximum effect, but Prozac side effects are severe and sometimes untreatable. Also sertraline half-life is less. It aids in the treatment of OCD, depression, panic disorder, bulimia nervosa, premenstrual disorder, hot flashes, social anxiety disorder, etc. But when it comes to Zoloft vs. Prozac, Prozac is preferred when prescribing to older people. It can come in various dosage forms like tablets, delayed release pills and also liquid with an active pharmaceutical ingredient called fluoxetine hydrochloride. The cost of Prozac can be different, but according to most online stores, a 10mg capsule of Prozac costs about $15.53 each, and a 20mg capsule of Prozac costs about $16.15 each.

Paxil (Paroxetine)

This drug is used for the treatment of depression and anxiety, but Zoloft adverse effects seems less potent than from Paxil. When it comes to Zoloft vs. Paxil, it is a bit cheaper than Zoloft and generic but it causes higher risks of suicidal thoughts, and it is inappropriate for both the elderly and people who have dementia. It comes in such dosage forms as a pill, extended release pill, and liquid with an active pharmaceutical ingredient called Paroxetine hydrochloride. The costs of Paxil ranges from about $6.38 per unit for a 10mg pill, $6.64 for a 20mg pill, $6.84 for a 30mg pill, $7.21 for a 40mg pill to about $1.31 for 5ml of the oral suspension.

Celexa (Citalopram)

When it comes to Zoloft vs. Celexa in treating anxiety disorders, Celexa is less likely to have side effects. But Zoloft sexual adverse effects, like decreased libido, can appear during the use of these drugs. Also compared with other antidepressants, Celexa does not cause much drowsiness, but it is not suitable for people with heart or liver problems. This drug comes only as pills and liquid and has an active pharmaceutical ingredient called Citalopram Hydrobromide. The average cost of Celexa is as follows: $9.11 for a single 10 mg pill, $9.50 for a 20 mg pill or $9.91 for a 40 mg pill.

Lexapro (Escitalopram)

Just like Celexa, this drug is less likely to have side effects and has fewer drug interactions too. When comparing Zoloft vs. Lexapro, it is also not suitable for people with heart and liver conditions, but it lowers the chances that depression will come back. This drug comes as pills and liquid containing Escitalopram oxalate as the active ingredient. The cost of Lexapro ranges from about $10.54 per unit for a 5mg pill, $8.22-$8.53 for a 10mg pill, $3.41-$9.76 for a 20mg pill, to about $2.19 for 5ml of the oral suspension.

Do not self-medicate or change medication by own as the unpredicted side effects and overdose may appear. The medical specialist only should prescribe the proper medication, dosage, and chose the alternatives if needed.

OTC Alternatives

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

pills and lemonThe Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our health, and since our body cannot produce it and we can’t get enough of it in the food we eat, it has been made into pills with about 0.5-2g of dose recommended. This drug can be bought without a prescription and is said to contribute to handling anxiety and depression issues making it an over the counter antidepressants. The active ingredients in Omega-3 fatty acids are Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). A single bottle can cost about $25.


Otherwise known as 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan is derived from Griffonia Simplicifolia a plant found in the west and central Africa. It can be made into serotonin which is involved with mood regulation. Therefore, it is made into pill form which can be used as an OTC antidepressant. Side effects can occur when in use but it is generally safe and well tolerated. A dose of about 200 mg is fair enough, and it is sold for about $30 per bottle.


SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) although produced in our body from methionine and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), it can be made into a dietary supplement pill which plays an essential role in regulating serotonin helping with depression. It hardly has any side effects, and a recommended dosage of 800 mg-1600 mg per day is fair enough. It can cost about $40-$70 for each bottle.

Arctic Root

Considered as a fast and effective remedy for the release of body stress, the arctic root or better known as Rhodiola Rosea is found in the cold regions of the Arctic, China or sometimes in Russia. It was used in the ancient Chinese era as the herbal antidepressant to reduce fatigue and boost physical stamina. This is one of the best natural alternatives for depression and anxiety disorders, and results are as little as one week.

The Best Option to Choose

When it comes to the best alternative to Zoloft, it depends on the condition of the disorder. If the condition is minor, the right way is to use over the counter depression medication like the Arctic roots or supplements, but if the condition is critical, it is necessary to use SSRI antidepressants, but only after getting a prescription. Don’t use sertraline recreationally. However, if symptoms of Zoloft addiction are noticed, please seek professional help immediately.

If there is a necessity to find the alternative for Zoloft, contact a professional to change a prescription.
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View Sources
Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN
Nena Messina

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.


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