Sertraline Overdose: Signs, Symptoms, and Precautions

Sertraline  is a generic prescription antidepressant medication that is also sold under the brand name Zoloft.

It is a popular SSRI antidepressant.  approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) forobsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and panic disorder (PD). It is also approved for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Although sertraline is generally considered  safe, it is possible to overdose. 

In this post, we’ll look at the signs and symptoms of sertraline overdose. We’ll also talk about what you can do to prevent overdose.

Signs and Symptoms of Sertraline Overdose

Antidepressant drugs, like sertraline, can cause a potentially serious overdose.

Symptoms of sertraline overdose are similar to other SSRI antidepressants, like fluoxetine (Prozac) and citalopram (Celexa).

The most common symptoms of sertraline overdose are tremors, lethargy, and nausea. Agitation, confusion, and lethargy are less common, but are possible. 

Other signs of a sertraline overdose include dizziness, fever, and a rapid heartbeat.

Large amounts of sertraline can cause a more severe overdose. One severe side effect is a potentially deadly heart condition called torsades de pointes. Sertraline can increase your heart rate and affect your heart’s rhythm. Both of these increase your risk for torsades de pointes.

Sertraline may also increase your risk for rhabdomyolysis. This is a serious condition where damaged muscle tissue gets released into your bloodstream. That can damage your kidneys. The most common signs are severe muscle pain, dark colored urine, and feeling extremely fatigued.

Another potentially serious and life-threatening symptom of sertraline overdose is the development of a condition called serotonin syndrome (toxicity).Serotonin syndrome occurs when levels of the neurotransmitter in the body become elevated past safe levels. 

Signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:

  • Nausea
  • Convulsions
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Coma 
  • Death

Preventing and Treating Sertraline Overdose

You can take steps to prevent sertraline overdose. First, don’t take any sertraline unless your healthcare provider has prescribed it for you. Second, be sure your healthcare provider knows all the medications you are taking, as well as your other medical conditions. That is the only way they can ensure sertraline is right for you.

Second, if you suspect that you or someone you love is experiencing a sertraline overdose, get medical help immediately or call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

A recent sertraline overdose can sometimes be treated  with stomach pumping or  activated charcoal. Activated charcoal soaks up the medicine so your body can’t absorb it.

However, if not caught quickly, the overdose will have to run its course. If you are experiencing an overdose, your healthcare provider will need to monitor you during this time.

Fatal sertraline overdose is rare. It commonly occurs when  sertraline is mixed with other medications, drugs, or alcohol. Don’t use any other medications or drink alcohol while on sertraline unless your healthcare provider says it’s OK.


Sertraline overdose is common when it is mixed with other medications, drugs, or alcohol. Taking a dosage higher than prescribed can increase your risk of overdose too.

Common symptoms of sertraline overdose include agitation, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Overdose can also cause shakiness, confusion, fever, rapid heartbeat, and sleepiness. 

While fatal overdoses are rare. But they are more likely to occur when sertraline is mixed with other interacting medications, alcohol, or illicit drugs. 

Only take sertraline as prescribed by your healthcare provider. If you think you may be experiencing an overdose, contact your healthcare provider immediately or call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

References, Studies and Sources: 

Lau GT, Horowitz BZ. Sertraline overdose. Acad Emerg Med. 1996;3(2):132-136. doi:10.1111/j.1553-2712.1996.tb03400.x

Zoloft – Sertraline Hydrochloride Tablet. DailyMed. January 15, 2023. Accessed June 23, 2023.

Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; February 13, 2023. Accessed June 23, 2023.

Bruggeman C, O’Day CS. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Toxicity. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; July 5, 2022. Accessed June 23, 2023.

Santra R, Chaudhuri PR, Dhali D, Mondal S. Suicidality and suicide attempt in a young female on long-term sertraline treatment. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012;34(4):391-393. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.108230

Barbey JT, Roose SP. SSRI safety in overdose. J Clin Psychiatry. 1998;59 Suppl 15:42-48.

Brendel DH, Bodkin JA, Yang JM. Massive sertraline overdose. Ann Emerg Med. 2000;36(5):524-526. doi:10.1067/mem.2000.111575

Nelson LS, Erdman AR, Booze LL, et al. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor poisoning: An evidence-based consensus guideline for out-of-hospital management. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2007;45(4):315-332. doi:10.1080/15563650701285289

de Boer RA, van Dijk TH, Holman ND, et al. QT interval prolongation after sertraline overdose: a case report. BMC Emerg Med. 2005;5:5. doi:10.1186/1471-227X-5-5

Elsayed M, Abdel-Kahaar E, Gahr M, et al. Arrhythmias related to antipsychotics and antidepressants: an analysis of the summaries of product characteristics of original products approved in Germany. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2021;77(5):767-775. doi:10.1007/s00228-020-03049-x

author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings

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