The drug sertraline is a member of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) class of drugs. Celexa (citalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), Luvox (fluvoxamine) and Paxil (paroxetine) are the other major drugs falling in the SSRI class of drugs. Nerve cells of brain produce a chemical called as serotonin which is used by the nerves for communicating with each other. A nerve produces serotonin and then releases it to its nearby surroundings. The serotonin produced either moves through the space or the serotonin attaches itself to the receptors present on the surface of nerves. Serotonin can also attach on the receptors of the nerve cell which produced it and then release it again (the process is called as re-uptake). This continues till the balance is reached between the nerves and reuptake. Selective inhibitors of serotonin block the process of serotonin reuptake and thus resulting in change of serotonin level in brain. Diseases like depression, traumatic stress and other stress disorders are caused due to imbalance between neurotransmitters and serotonin. The major theory is that medication like sertraline helps in restoring the chemical balance i.e. maintain the balance between neurotransmitters and serotonin. In December 1991, the FDA approved the use of sertraline.
Before starting the use of sertraline, a patient should tell his doctor in case he is allergic to the medicine. Also in case of other allergies the doctor should be informed prior. The drug may have some ingredients which may lead to some allergies. The doctor should review the medical history of the patient and check whether the patient has any of the following diseases: liver disease, bleeding problems and seizure disorder. A patient should avoid consumption of alcohol. The drug has some constituents which may result in drowsiness; as a result patients should avoid tasks requiring alertness for instance driving a vehicle or working on a machine. A patient should disclose all the medicines in use for e.g. prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products to his doctor before undergoing any surgery. Older people are susceptible to the side effects like development of salt imbalance called as hyponatremia, especially in case if they consume water pills. Children are more prone to the side effects of the drug; the general symptoms are loss in weight due to loss of appetite. Parents should monitor the height and weight of their children. During the pregnancy period, the medicine should be taken only when it is required. The drug may prove to be harmful for the unborn baby. In case of mothers who have used this drug in the last three months of their pregnancy, chances are that their babies may develop symptoms such as muscle stiffness, breathing difficulties, feeding difficulties, seizures and constant crying.
In case the child has any of the above mentioned symptoms, doctor must be immediately consulted. If the depression is not treated in time then it could prove to be fatal, hence the patients should not stop taking medicine without consulting their doctor. If a patient is pregnant or is planning for a pregnancy, then she should immediately consult with a doctor regarding the risk and benefits of the medication. In case of breast feeding, the constituents of drugs pass to the babies. Thus the mothers should consult with their doctor before breast feeding their babies.
Sertraline is used for treating panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorders, depression, disorder due to post-traumatic stress, social phobia (social anxiety disorder) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (type of premenstrual syndrome). Use of this medicine helps in improving the appetite, energy level, sleep, and moods of a patient and brings back the interest of a person in living his daily life. The medication will reduce unwanted thoughts, fear, anxiety and the number of panic attacks. Use of this medicine reduces the urge for doing repeated tasks for e.g. counting, hand-washing and checking, these tasks interfere in the daily living of a patient. Sertraline works by restoring the balance of serotonin in the brain.
Sertraline is available as a tablet and liquid form. The drug is taken orally. Sertraline can be taken either in morning or evening. When sertraline is used for treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder, a patient should take a single dose of sertraline in a day. It is advisable to take the medicine at the same time each day so that it becomes a habit. Patients should read all the information on label and may even ask the doctor for further explanation in case of confusion. Patient should take the dosage of the drug according to the prescription of the doctor.
The concentrate of sertraline is to be diluted before the use. Before the consumption of medication, a dropper should be used to pick the concentrate as prescribed by the doctor. The medication concentrate is mixed with 1/2 cup of water (4 ounces), soda (lemon or lime), orange juice, ginger ale, lemonade. The medicated concentrate should not be mixed with any other liquid. The mixture should be consumed immediately.
Patients are initially treated with a low dose and slowly the dose is increased to no more then once weekly. It takes some time before the patient benefits from the drug. Patients should not stop the use of the drug in case they feel well. Discontinuation of the drug must be done only after consulting the doctor.
Sertraline is responsible for affecting the serotonin levels in the brain. The serotonin is a brain chemical responsible for mental state and emotions of a person.
Patients should slowly discontinue the medicine as this will avoid any withdraw side effects. Without consulting a doctor, a patient should not discontinue the medicine.
The medicine should be kept in a container and should be placed out of the reach of children. The storage place should be maintained at room temperature. Bathrooms and other places with excess of moisture and heat must be avoided for storage. Outdated medication should be immediately discarded and disposed. Disposal methods should be followed as per the guidelines of the pharmacist.