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Zoloft: How Long It Stays In System And Ways To Clear It Out

zoloft half-life time

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Zoloft is used to treat depression. Some people may benefit from it but, in some people, including those who use sertraline to complement withdrawal from substance abuse, Zoloft may worsen their conditions. Person taking Zoloft pill must never miss a dose or, decide to withdraw drug use without first consulting with a medical professional.
Anybody who is planning to stop taking Zoloft must know about the symptoms that withdrawal may trigger. To help one successfully get rid of sertraline, person must know how long does Zoloft stay in system after stopping and what person can do to speed up excretion.

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Table of Contents

What is the Half-Life of Zoloft?

The half life of Zoloft taken at 200mg/day is approximately 26 hours. This means that it takes about 26 hours for the concentration of sertraline to drop to about half of the original level following drug intake. To metabolize half of that remaining amount in body would again take another 26 hours.

How Long do Antidepressants Stay in System?

Zoloft half life is almost the same as most other SSRIs, except for Prozac, the half life of which lasts for up to four to six days. Knowing the drug half-life is important because that dictates how much time brain and body get to adjust to a drug-free environment. Since sertraline takes such a short time to be broken down and decrease in concentration, it does not permit body to make gradual adjustments. Hence, Zoloft withdrawal symptoms can be expected to manifest.
It is of utmost importance then, that patient should not stop taking sertraline without first consulting with doctor and without the supervision of a medical professional. The rapid decline of Zoloft in the system may cause symptoms of depression and likely result to a relapse.

How Long does it Take for Zoloft to Get Out of System?  

Sertraline stays in system for up to more than five days. About that time, approximately 99% of sertraline will have already exited body. However, there are other factors that influence how long does Zoloft stay in system after stopping.
Knowing the sertraline half life only solves the first part of the equation. It is essential to take into consideration that Desmethylsertraline, the metabolite that helps breakdown sertraline, has a half-life of 66 hours. Thus, detecting the presence of  Desmethylsertraline may continue to indicate the presence of Zoloft in body system. On the average, it takes 15 days for this metabolite to clear up from body.

Factors that Influence How Long for Zoloft to Leave System

How long does sertraline stay in system? That depends on several factors. The following variables affect the length of time it takes to clear the drug from body:

  • Dosage. The first consideration in determining how long does Zoloft stay in system after one stops taking it is by noting the dosage prescribed for a patient. It matters whether patient is taking 25 mg or 200 mg of Zoloft. This indicates the concentration levels of sertraline in system. The higher dose one takes, the longer it takes for sertraline to completely breakdown and, eventually, be completely excreted from the body. Frequency of drug intake per day also determines the level of sertraline concentration inside the body. The length of time that one has been medicating with the antidepressant, or taking sertraline for recreational purposes, will also affect how long it can stay in system.
  • Individual Factors. Even when one takes exactly the same dose of Zoloft at the same frequency as another person, one can expect differences in the duration by which sertraline stays in system. This is because a number of physiological factors can affect how rapidly or how slowly body breaks down this drug and excrete the same from system. Based on the information above, pregnant women taking Zoloft should be extremely careful.

Individual factors that can influence how soon body can flush out Zoloft include:

  • Age and Sex. In general, younger males breakdown Zoloft and its metabolite, Desmethylsertraline, at a faster rate than females within the same age group. A particular study published on NCBI was able to establish this comparison between young adult males and females between the ages from 18 to 45. The study found that the average time it takes for young adult females to breakdown the sertraline and Desmethylsertraline was similar to the rate at which these were broken down by elder males and elder females also included in the study.
  • Body Mass. The person who has bigger body mass will eliminate the drug much slower than the person with a low body mass. Zoloft half life will depend on patent’s weight as well. The higher the presence of fats, the more likely that more of the drug has been stored in the fats and, therefore, the longer it will take to break it down. Also Zoloft causes weight gain or loss in some patients during the treatment course.
  • Heredity. According to this study, liver health can be a major driver of how long Zoloft can stay in the system. Liver controls and regulates the enzymes that help breakdown food and drugs inside gut. Some people have inherited enzymes that can directly cutdown Zoloft half life whereas the ones who do not have such enzymes will take longer to breakdown sertraline. Health condition, in general can affect rate of metabolism.
  • Taking Zoloft With Food. Sertraline may or may not be taken with a meal. Those who take it with a big meal get to absorb more of the sertraline faster whereas taking the drug without food may cause it to stay in system longer. It is recommended to avoid all kind of alcohol with Zoloft.
  • Taking Other Drugs. There are certain medications that affect the level of enzymes that the body uses to metabolize Zoloft. Some of these improve enzyme production while others inhibit the production of the same. When sertraline is taken with medications that drive up production of these enzymes, body is able to metabolize the drug faster. On the contrary, medications that inhibit the production of these enzymes cause Zoloft to become metabolized more slowly.

How Is Zoloft Stored In The Body?

How is zoloft metabolized? Following intake of a Zoloft pill, sertraline enters the body and follows this pathway:

  • Sertraline is absorbed by the body more rapidly when taken with food and more slowly without. Peak plasma concentration happens at about 4 to 6 hours after taking in a pill.
  • The drug concentration begins to be cut into half by about 24 up to 26 hours following intake. Sertraline is broken down by enzymes of the liver. Approximately 45% of sertraline will be excreted through the kidneys and the rest through feces.
  • By Day 5 following pill intake, approximately 99% of sertraline will have been excreted from the body. However, desmethylsertraline will take longer to exit system. Once again, individual differences will influence how long it takes to rid one’s system of sertraline.

How Long can Zoloft be Detectable on the Drug Test?

medications pills and drug test reportZoloft can yield a false positive result in a drug test. The type of lab tests that will be run, as well as the timing of the drug test and the specimen used will influence the results.
If person are taking Zoloft and scheduled to undergo a drug test, here are the top facts about Zoloft and drug tests that must be known:

How Long does Zoloft Stay in the Body and Blood?

It takes approximately 5 days to eliminate about 99% of sertraline from the system. Using saliva, hair and fingernail samples for drug testing is unusual and not routine. An interplay of many factors concerning individual conditions may affect how long Zoloft stays in the body. How long it stays detectable in blood depends on the amount consumed right before withdrawal and on the half-life of Zoloft.

How Long does Zoloft Stay in the Urine?

About 44%  of sertraline and its metabolites remain detectable in the urine at about 9 days after last pill intake. Again, other individual factors may affect metabolism and length of presence in the urine. Zoloft will show in urine drug test after this period.

Tips to Clear Zoloft from the System

Improve the chances of successfully getting Zoloft off of the system by consulting with a medical professional. Doctor can guide about proper drug withdrawal and how to clear the system of Zoloft faster. Below are some of the top tips to eliminate sertraline sooner:

  • Drink plenty of water to more rapidly flush out sertraline from system.
  • Engage in moderate workout for the next two weeks following withdrawal.
  • Ask the doctor about CYP450 inducers which can help speed up the metabolism and excretion of sertraline from the system.

How long does it take for Zoloft to get out of the system? It takes Zoloft more than five days to exit the body, and about 15 days or more to become undetectable. The strong personal commitment and the support of loved ones will help to get off of sertraline successfully and stay off of it for good.

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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.


Leave a comment

  • Terri
    I want to get off zoloft but need help doing it. I take 100 mg per day but I feel like it isn’t working that great for me. I just moved to a new state and I’m feeling sad and depressed. I am taking the zoloft but I dont feel like it is making me feel better. I get headaches and I’m really tired all the time. I have been on it for quite a while. Can someone help me. We moved to this state to be where our only child is because they just had a baby. I feel like the zoloft has made me forgetful. Can you help me with what to do
  • Bill
    Do you think going solo to quit an antidepressant when you are feeling sad and depressed is a good idea? I really recommend you find a doctor ASAP and discuss alternatives to Zoloft. Perhaps now is not a good time to go off antidepressants. Have you tried quitting Zoloft before? Trust me, it can be hard or it can be easy. One never knows how it will go. But I would be irresponsible if I gave you advice or tactics to quit if you are in a bad frame of mind. Go chat with a doctor and ask for help there. Have a plan. There’s lots of meds for you to try. When the time comes for you to try quitting, you’ll know it and you’ll be safe. Now just doesn’t sound like you’re there. Talk to a doc. You’ll be okay.