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What Is the Relationship between Sertraline and Blood Pressure?

By Debra Barnhart
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Sertraline, which is sometimes distributed under the brand name Zoloft®, is in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that is used to treat depression. Clinical studies do not indicate a connection between normal use of sertraline and blood pressure changes in adults, although a combination of sertraline with L-tryptophan has been known to cause a condition that can affect blood pressure. In addition, a possible correlation between taking SSRIs during pregnancy and the occurrence of persistent pulmonary hypertension in the newborn (PPHN) has been found. Sertraline is prescribed for major depressive disorder and other types of mental disorders.

Studies of sertraline and its effects with normal use on patients did not substantiate any correlation between sertraline and blood pressure. In clinical studies, the percentage of people taking sertraline who reported a change in blood pressure was much the same as the percentage for those in a control group who took a placebo, or sugar pill with no drug. When taken in combination with L-tryptophan, which is used to treat bipolar affective disorder, there is a connection between sertraline and blood pressure. This combination of drugs has been known to cause a severe condition called serotonin syndrome. Symptoms of this condition include blood pressure changes as well as restlessness, elevated heart rate and hallucinations.

A 2006 study in the New England Journal of Medicine of SSRIs and their impact on pregnant women and their babies found a higher incidence of PPHN. According to this study the timing of exposure to SSRIs was key. For mothers who took SSRIs after the 20th week of pregnancy the incidence of PPHN was more than double that of the control group.

PPHN is a life threatening illness in newborn babies that causes the blood to move away from the lungs. The newborn can die since the blood is not oxygenated. Earlier studies of the effects of SSRIs on pregnant women did not find any correlation between this life threatening disease and taking SSRIs during pregnancy. Some experts say that the risks of PPHN must be weighed against the effects of depression on mothers and newborns.

Sertraline is prescribed for depression and works by helping to balance the level of serotonin in the brain. This drug is also prescribed for a number of other mental health conditions, including major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. It is also sometimes used to treat chronic pain and Alzheimer’s disease. Although there is not much evidence of a correlation between sertraline and blood pressure changes, the drug does have other common side effects that include dry mouth, difficulty sleeping, dizziness and headache.

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Discussion Comments

By ddljohn — On Feb 05, 2014

@donasmrs-- I'm surprised to hear that sertraline may increase blood pressure in some people. I would think that it would be more likely to lower it because sertraline fights anxiety and anxiety is a cause of high blood pressure. But medications interact with so many different mechanisms in our body, it's difficult to know what a medication may lead to.

By donasmrs — On Feb 05, 2014

@ZipLine-- Sertraline can cause high blood pressure or low blood pressure. It affects different people differently. You ought to be careful, especially if you normally have high or low blood pressure. Make sure your doctor is aware of these issues and also mention any other medications you are taking.

I was on sertraline for a brief time and so was my mom. I used to experience low blood pressure from time to time during my treatment. Sometimes I would get dizzy, like I would faint. My mom, on the other hand, had to switch to a different medication within the first week because sertraline raised her blood pressure. She is already suffering from high blood pressure.

So everyone needs to be aware of these potential side effects. Not everyone reacts the same way to drugs. Some people don't have any side effects. Doctors may not be aware of all of the potential side effects, especially if the side effects uncommon and if doctors haven't had patients who experienced them.

By ZipLine — On Feb 04, 2014

Some sources say that sertraline may cause a drop or increase in blood pressure and some sources, like this one, say that it doesn't cause any changes. I'm not sure what to believe. Has anyone had experiences supporting either claim? Do I need to worry about the possibility of an increase in blood pressure from sertraline or not?

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