Sertraline hydrochloride (trade names Zoloft, Lustral) is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class. It was introduced to the market by Pfizer in 1991. Sertraline is primarily used to treat major depressive disorder in adult outpatients as well as obsessive–compulsive, panic, and social anxiety disorders in both adults and children. In 2011, it was the second most prescribed antidepressant on the U.S. retail market, with 37,208,000 prescriptions.
The efficacy of sertraline for depression is similar to that of older tricyclic antidepressants, but its side effects are much less pronounced. Differences with newer antidepressants are subtler and also mostly confined to side effects. Evidence suggests that sertraline may work better than fluoxetine (Prozac) for some subtypes of depression. Sertraline is highly effective for the treatment of panic disorder, but cognitive behavioral therapy is a better treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder, whether by itself or in combination with sertraline. Although approved for social phobia and posttraumatic stress disorder, sertraline leads to only modest improvement in these conditions. Sertraline also alleviates the symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder and can be used in sub-therapeutic doses or intermittently for its treatment.
Sertraline shares the common side effects and contraindications of other SSRIs, with high rates of nausea, diarrhea, insomnia, and sexual side effects; however, it does not cause weight gain, and its effects on both cognition and vigilance are relatively mild. In pregnant women taking sertraline, the drug was present in significant concentrations in fetal blood, and was also associated with a higher rate of various birth defects. Similarly to other antidepressants, the use of sertraline for depression may be associated with a higher rate of suicidality.