Approximately seven percent of Americans experience a major depressive episode each year, and many are prescribed antidepressant medications for the treatment of their symptoms.
Prozac and Zoloft are two of the most popular prescription medications for the treatment of depression and other mental health issues, and your healthcare provider may offer you the choice of which medication to take if you need treatment with an antidepressant.
When it comes to Prozac vs. Zoloft, what are the differences?
What is Prozac, and What is Zoloft?
Prozac and Zoloft are both antidepressant medications that belong to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs work by blocking the reuptake of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter in the brain, into neurons, causing an increase in serotonin levels in the brain.
Prozac is also sold under the generic name fluoxetine and was the first SSRI on the market when it was introduced in 1986. Prozac is used for the treatment of major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, bulimia nervosa, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Zoloft is commonly sold under the brand name Sertraline and was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997. Like Prozac, it is used for the treatment of major depressive disorder, OCD, panic disorder, and PMDD; however, it is not used for the treatment of bulimia nervosa. Zoloft can also be prescribed for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder.
What are the differences between Prozac and Zoloft?
Prozac and Zoloft may belong to the same drug class, but they do have some significant differences, including their chemical composition, conditions treated, age specifications, and available forms.
Prozac and Zoloft are made from different active ingredients. While Prozac’s active ingredient is fluoxetine, Zoloft uses sertraline as its active ingredient. The difference in active ingredients affects how the medications work, which means that some people might receive better results when taking one medication as compared to the other.
As noted above, Prozac and Zoloft are antidepressant medications that are both used for the treatment of major depressive disorder, OCR, panic disorder, and PMDD. However, Prozac is used for the treatment of bulimia nervosa, while Zoloft is not, and Zoloft is used to treat PTSD and social anxiety disorder, which Prozac is not.
Prozac and Zoloft are appropriate for use in people of different ages. Prozac can be used for the treatment of depression in children ages eight and older, and children as young as seven can take the medication for the treatment of OCD. Zoloft can be used for the treatment of OCD in children as young as six, but it should not be used for the treatment of depression in anyone under the age of 18.
Finally, Prozac and Zoloft are available in different forms. Prozac is sold as an oral tablet, an oral solution (liquid), and an oral capsule, while Zoloft is available only as an oral tablet and an oral solution and does not come in a capsule form.
What are the similarities between Prozac and Zoloft?
Although Prozac and Zoloft do have some important differences, they are very similar in many ways. Both drugs belong to the same class of medications (SSRIs) and both have been shown to be equally effective in the treatment of anxiety and depression; however, everyone responds to medications differently, so some people may prefer one over the other.
Both medications cause similar side effects, including:
- Feeling nervous or anxious
- Sexual problems like erectile dysfunction
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
- Dry mouth
Both medications can also cause serious side effects such as an increased risk of suicidal thoughts, particularly in young adults, and changes to heart rhythm called QT prolongation.
Both Prozac and Zoloft are non habit-forming and have a low risk of abuse, have similar drug interactions, and may cause problems during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Stopping the use of either medication suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms, so they must only be discontinued under the supervision of a medical professional.
Although Prozac and Zoloft are very similar medications in many ways, there are some differences between the two drugs, including their chemical composition, conditions treated, age specifications, and available forms. Both medications cause similar side effects.
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