Sertraline is in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Sertraline affects chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced and cause depression, panic or anxiety, obsessive or compulsive symptoms, or other psychiatric symptoms.
Sertraline is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia. Sertraline may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide. Sertraline is used to treat mental depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Sertraline belongs to a group of medicines known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medicines are thought to work by increasing the activity of a certain chemical, called serotonin, in the brain.
The antidepressant effect of sertraline is presumed to be linked to its ability to inhibit the neuronal reuptake of serotonin. It has only very weak effects on norepinephrine and dopamine neuronal reuptake. At clinical doses, sertraline blocks the uptake of serotonin into human platelets. Like most clinically effective antidepressants, sertraline downregulates brain norepinephrine and serotonin receptors in animals. In receptor binding studies, sertraline has no significant affinity for adrenergic (alpha(1), alpha(2) and beta), cholinergic, GABA, dopaminergic, histaminergic, serotonergic (5-HT1A, 5-HT1B, 5-HT2) or benzodiazepine binding sites.
Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) with well established antidepressant and anxiolytic activity. Results from several well designed trials show that sertraline (50-200 mg/day) is effective in the treatment of major depressive disorder in elderly patients (>/=60 years of age). Primary endpoints in most studies included the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), Clinical Global Impression score and the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale. Sertraline was significantly more effective than placebo and was as effective as fluoxetine, nortriptyline and imipramine in elderly patients. During one trial, amitriptyline was significantly more effective than sertraline (mean reduction from baseline on one of six primary outcomes [HDRS]), although no quantitative data were provided. Subgroup analysis of data from a randomised, double-blind trial in elderly patients with major depressive disorder suggests that vascular morbidity, diabetes mellitus or arthritis does not affect the antidepressant effect of sertraline. Secondary endpoints from these clinical trials suggest that sertraline has significant benefits over nortriptyline in terms of quality of life. In addition, significant differences favouring sertraline in comparison with nortriptyline and fluoxetine have been recorded for a number of cognitive functioning parameters. Sertraline is generally well tolerated in elderly patients with major depressive disorder and lacks the marked anticholinergic effects that characterise the adverse event profiles of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). The most frequently reported adverse events in patients aged >/=60 years with major depressive disorder receiving sertraline 50-150 mg/day were dry mouth, headache, diarrhoea, nausea, insomnia, somnolence, constipation, dizziness, sweating and taste abnormalities. The tolerability profile of sertraline is generally similar in younger and elderly patients. Sertraline has a low potential for drug interactions at the level of the cytochrome P450 enzyme system. In addition, no dosage adjustments are warranted for elderly patients solely based on age. CONCLUSION: Sertraline is an effective and well tolerated antidepressant for the treatment of major depressive disorder in patients aged >/=60 years. Since elderly patients are particularly prone to the anticholinergic effects of TCAs as a class, SSRIs such as sertraline are likely to be a better choice for the treatment of major depressive disorder in this age group. In addition, sertraline may have advantages over the SSRIs paroxetine, fluoxetine and fluvoxamine in elderly patients because of the drug's comparatively low potential for drug interactions, which is of importance in patient groups such as the elderly who are likely to receive more than one drug regimen.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) produced by nerve cells in the brain that is used by the nerves to communicate with one another. A nerve releases the serotonin it produces into the space surrounding it. The serotonin either travels across the space and attaches to receptors on the surface of nearby nerves or it attaches to receptors on the surface of the nerve that produced it, to be taken up by the nerve and released again (a process referred to as re-uptake). A balance is reached for serotonin between attachment to the nearby nerves and reuptake. Selective serotonin inhibitors block the reuptake of serotonin and therefore change the level of serotonin in the brain. It is believed that some illnesses such as depression are caused by disturbances in the balance between serotonin and other neurotransmitters. The leading theory is that drugs such as sertraline restore the chemical balance among neurotransmitters in the brain.