The antidepressant drug sertraline hydrochloride, marketed as Lustral® and Zoloft®, has been prescribed since the early 1990s for chronic depression and some anxiety disorders. Known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), the medication also has proven effective for some with social anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorders. It is not without side effects, though, as this drug has been known to cause regular migraines. Sertraline and headaches are a fact of life for as many as one in five who take the medication.
Doctors may recommend over-the-counter medication like the analgesic acetaminophen or the anti-inflammatory ibuprofen if the use of sertraline and headaches are connected in any way. If the symptoms persist, a prescription-strength barbiturate-based headache medication might be enlisted to help. The doctor also might try using another antidepressant to see if the migraines subside.
Sertraline and headaches are among the more serious results, but other side-effects have been linked to using this drug as well. Doctors should be kept abreast of all side effects being experienced, particularly chronic migraines, hallucinations, unexplained bleeding, seizures, blurry sight, erratic heart rate, fever and muscular spasms. Less serious symptoms should also be tabulated for doctors to consider from nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat and lethargy to a loss of appetite, gastrointestinal problems, dry mouth, numbness in the appendages, and a change in sexual desire. Patients also may experience periods of unexplained and copious sweating.
Many of the side effects of sertraline are also indications that an overdose is occurring. If a dose if relatively high, a doctor may slightly lower it to gauge if any improvements are noted. He or she also might just phase a patient off the sertraline and onto a different SSRI medication.
According to the National Institutes of Health, sertraline is occasionally used to treat chronic headaches or migraines, even though its use might cause them in some patients. The drug also is used to counter some difficulties with libido. Its primary use, however, is with depressive symptoms as well as some anxiety disorders.
The commonality of sertraline and headaches could indicate an allergic reaction to the drug, which contains latex. It also could point to a dangerous interaction with any number of other medications, from various anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory drugs to mood elevators and even Valium®, also known as diazepam. The headache also could be a completely unrelated health problem. If headaches persist for longer than a week, a doctor should be consulted.