Zoloft and other SSRI' s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are safe and effective medications for depression and anxiety. These medications work by increasing the levels of Serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain which is involved in modulating mood and anxiety levels. While SSRI's rarely interact with other medications, there are a few notable combinations that can be dangerous.
SSRI' s should never be combined with MAOI's (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors) such as Emsam, a less commonly prescribed type of antidepressant, as this could lead to a dangerous rise in blood pressure. Zoloft should also be used with caution with other SSRI' s or medications like Effexor. Rarely, such combinations could cause Serotonin Syndrome, a condition caused by the presence of too much serotonin in the body. Serotonin Syndrome is characterized by fever, stiffness, muscle jerks, rapid heart rate, and changes in blood pressure. Treatment of this condition includes discontinuing the offending medications, tranquilizers to relax muscles, IV fluids and occasionally medications to block serotonin production. Usually Serotonin Syndrome resolves within 24 hours with appropriate treatment, For more severe cases, longer inpatient treatment may be required.
Additionally, SSRI' s can elevate blood levels of many different types of medications, usually with no side effects. However, for some medications, such as the blood thinner, Coumadin, whose blood level must be tightly controlled, this could be problematic.
Bottom line: Always make sure your doctors are aware of everything that is prescribed to you and everything you take over the counter. Also, communication among your doctors is ideal. So next time you go in for a checkup be sure to bring in a list of all your medications and contact information for all your doctors.