Living with anxiety and depression is challenging – finding the right medication shouldn’t be. With so many anxiety and antidepressant treatment options available, it can be difficult to understand the differences between medications, let alone figure out which would work best for you.
Zoloft and Luvox belong to the same class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They have a similar effect on the neurochemical called serotonin, which helps regulate important bodily functions, such as mood, sleep, and appetite, to name a few. However, there are differences you’ll need to consider when choosing the right anxiety or depression treatment.
In this article, we will compare these two commonly prescribed antidepressant medications so that you can be better informed when discussing treatment options with your healthcare provider.
If you would like to know more about other medications available for the treatment of anxiety or depression or would like to meet with a healthcare provider to discuss possible treatment options, schedule an appointment on Klarity today. We will connect you with a licensed healthcare provider in your area in as little as 48 hours.
What Is Zoloft?
Zoloft is the brand name of sertraline, an SSRI medication that acts by blocking the reuptake of a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin.
Individuals who suffer from anxiety or depression tend to have lower levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is essential for communication across the brain and signaling throughout the body. SSRIs, like Zoloft, work to increase serotonin levels and help restore this neurochemical balance.
Zoloft is one of the most commonly prescribed SSRI medications used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. It is widely used in both pediatric and adult populations.
Forms and Doses of Zoloft
Zoloft is available in capsules, tablets, and liquid forms. Tablets and capsules are most commonly prescribed. The initial starting dose is typically 50 mg a day, which can then be increased in 25 mg increments as needed. The typical maximum dose is 200 mg a day.
Zoloft tablets are available in the following dosage forms:
- 25 mg
- 50 mg
- 100 mg
Zoloft is available in capsule form in the following doses:
- 150 mg
- 200 mg
Zoloft oral solution is available at 20 mg/mL and is mostly reserved for the pediatric population.
Conditions Zoloft Treats
There are a number of different anxiety and depressive disorders that are commonly treated with Zoloft.
Zoloft is FDA-approved to treat the following disorders:
- Major depressive disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Panic disorder & PTSD
Symptoms of Anxiety Zoloft Can Treat
Zoloft is used to treat anxiety symptoms that impact everyday life, including racing or intrusive thoughts, and decrease the fear or panic that is often out of proportion to the given situation. For those with panic disorders, Zoloft can reduce the number and severity of panic episodes.
Symptoms of Depression Zoloft Can Treat
Zoloft can improve a number of depressive symptoms and overall increase quality of life by improving and regulating mood, increasing interest in pleasurable activities, and improving sleep quality. Zoloft also increases energy levels and helps to restore appetite.
Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Zoloft Can Treat
Those who suffer from OCD can benefit from taking Zoloft because of its calming effect on the thought process. Zoloft reduces the uncontrollable urges associated with performing repetitive tasks or compulsions in OCD.
Off-Label Uses For Zoloft
Some off-label uses for Zoloft include:
- Binge eating disorder
- Body dysmorphic disorder
- Bulimia nervosa
- Premature ejaculation
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- Neuropathic pain
Zoloft or sertraline is available in both generic and name-brand formulations and is a relatively affordable medication. The average price of a 30-day prescription is around $10-11 when using a coupon code. Zoloft is covered by most insurance plans, and coupon codes are available at most large pharmacies.
Side Effects of Zoloft
As with any medication, there are associated risks and benefits that should be considered before prescribing. Of note, all SSRIs, including Zoloft, should be avoided or used with caution in elderly patients. This is due to the potential for an increased side effect profile, including electrolyte imbalances and changes in blood pressure.
Common side effects associated with Zoloft include:
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, GI upset
- Drowsiness or dizziness
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Increased sweating
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Decreased libido, sexual dysfunction
- Muscle cramps or weakness
Zoloft Warnings For Use
There are some important warnings for use associated with taking Zoloft that should be mentioned. Below we have mentioned the rare but serious conditions that may occur when taking the medication, including:
An increase in suicidal ideation or self-harm is a rare but serious adverse effect that can occur when initially starting Zoloft. This is most commonly seen in adolescents and young adults under the age of 24. If you are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please contact your healthcare provider immediately or seek out medical care at your nearest emergency department. The national suicide hotline can be reached by dialing 988 and is available 24/7.
Serotonin Syndrome is another rare but potentially fatal drug reaction that occurs when there is too much serotonin built up in the body. This most commonly occurs when the individual is taking multiple medications that increase serotonin. You should call your healthcare provider or seek immediate medical attention if you begin to experience any of the signs or symptoms of serotonin syndrome.
Common signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:
- Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure
- High fever
- Irregular heartbeat
- Agitation or restlessness
- Loss of muscle coordination or uncontrollable muscle twitching
- Muscle rigidity
- Increased sweating, shivering, or goosebumps
- Dilated pupils
- Confusion or altered consciousness
Withdrawal or discontinuation syndrome is commonly experienced when abruptly discontinuing an SSRI medication or even when lowering the dose. It’s important to discuss with your healthcare provider when you are considering stopping or decreasing the dose of your SSRI medication, as you may experience side effects. Your healthcare provider will be able to help you gradually taper off the dose you are currently taking.
Common withdrawal syndrome symptoms include:
- Dizziness or light-headedness
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Tremors or visual disturbances
- Irregular sensations, including an “electric-shock” sensation throughout your body
- Increased anxiety or agitation
- Confusion or irritability
Another warning to consider is using caution while prescribing Zoloft to the elderly population. The majority of SSRIs can cause changes in blood pressure and electrolyte imbalances, such as hyponatremia. With natural aging, the body becomes sensitive to such changes and can result in dangerous outcomes.
Zoloft Drug Interactions
When you are starting any new medication, it is important to disclose all medications you are currently taking with your healthcare provider, including all over-the-counter medications and supplements.
Some common drug interactions associated with Zoloft include:
- Medications that are known to increase serotonin levels:
- Recreational drugs like MDMA or ecstasy
- ADHD medications, such as Adderall, increase the risk of serotonin syndrome.
- Antipsychotic medications
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Some migraine medications, including sumatriptan, rizatriptan, tramadol
- St. John’s Wort
- MAO inhibitors, including linezolid or methylene blue. These medications must be stopped 14 days before starting an SSRI for a “wash-out” period
- Antiplatelet or anticoagulant medications: increase the risk of bleeding
- Specific antibiotics and antifungal medications
- Opioids, including methadone
- Some anti-nausea medications, such as ondansetron or Zofran
- Thiazide diuretics: increase risk of hyponatremia
What Is Luvox?
Luvox is the brand name of the medication fluvoxamine, and it is FDA-approved to treat mood and anxiety disorders. Like Zoloft, Luvox is an SSRI medication and works in a similar way to increase levels of serotonin in the brain.
Forms and Doses of Luvox
Luvox is available in two forms, an oral capsule and tablet. The typical starting dose is 25 mg by mouth daily and is then gradually titrated up on a weekly basis until the desired effect is reached. The maximum dosage should not exceed 300 mg per day.
Luvox tablets are available in the following doses:
- 25 mg
- 50 mg
- 100 mg
Luvox Capsules are considered extended release 24 hours and available as:
- 100 mg
- 150 mg
Conditions Luvox Treats
Luvox is known to effectively treat a wide range of psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety and depressive conditions. Ironically enough, Luvox is the only SSRI that is not FDA-approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder, but it can effectively treat depression.
Of note, Luvox is only FDA-approved to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but is known to be effective in the treatment of many additional conditions, which are listed below under the “off-label” use section.
Symptoms of Anxiety Luvox Can Treat
Luvox is beneficial in those who have anxiety by calming racing, intrusive or unwanted thoughts. It can lessen anxiety in social situations and anxiety that is out of proportion to the given situation.
Symptoms of Depression Luvox Can Treat
Luvox is known to be effective in treating depressive symptoms by improving mood, increasing interest in pleasurable activities, and improving sleep quality.
Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Luvox Can Treat
Luvox is FDA-approved for the treatment of OCD and is known to help calm the overall thought process in these patients, as well as decrease the impulsivity of urges associated with compulsions of this disorder.
Off-Label Uses For Luvox
As previously discussed, although Luvox is only FDA-approved for the treatment of OCD, it can be beneficial in treating a number of psychiatric conditions. The FDA-approval process requires a significant amount of time, research, and funding, which is a huge barrier for a medication to be approved for a specific diagnosis.
The term “off-label” is used to describe any uses of the medication that are not FDA-approved. So although a medication may be considered “off-label” for a certain diagnosis, this does not mean that it is not effective in the treatment process.
Additional off-label uses for Luvox include:
- Social phobia or social anxiety disorder (SAD)
- Major depressive disorder (MDD)
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic disorder
- Eating disorders, such as bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder
Unlike Zoloft, Luvox is a newer medication and is, therefore, more expensive. Without insurance, an average 30-day supply of Luvox is around $400 but can be significantly lowered with the use of coupon codes to around $30-50. Luvox is typically covered by most commercial health insurance plans and coupon codes are available at most large pharmacies.
Side Effects of Luvox
As with any medication, there are some associated side effects to look out for, which are most common when first taking the medication. These adverse effects tend to lessen over time, but if you do experience these side effects and they are bothersome, discuss this with your healthcare provider.
Some of the most common side effects with Luvox include:
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue, dizziness
- GI upset, including abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation
- Difficulty sleeping or insomnia
- Increased anxiety or nervousness
- Increased or excessive sweating
- Sexual dysfunction, including lack of desire or orgasm
Luvox Warnings For Use
Luvox shares the same warnings for use as Zoloft, which is common among all SSRI medications. As always, you should discuss all medical conditions and current medications you are taking with your healthcare provider to ensure that you are prescribed the safest and most effective medication for you.
Some shared warnings for both Luvox and Zoloft include:
- Increased suicidal ideation or thoughts of self-harm
- Serotonin syndrome
- Withdrawal or discontinuation syndrome
- Caution with use in elderly due to blood pressure changes and electrolyte abnormalities
Additional conditions that are contraindicated for use of Luvox include:
- Liver disease
- Prior heart attack or severe heart disease
- Heart arrhythmias
- Bipolar disorder or prior episodes of mania
- Seizure disorder
Luvox Drug Interactions
As with any medication, there are a number of medications that are known to interact with one another. When starting any new medication, it is important to disclose all current medications you are taking, including all over-the-counter medications and supplements.
Some of the most common medications to avoid while taking Luvox include:
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- NSAID medications, including ibuprofen
- Warfarin and other blood-thinning medications
- Other SSRI medications and antidepressants
- ADHD medication, like Adderall
- St. John’s Wort
- Most pain medications, including opioids
- Thiazide diuretics
- Recreational drugs, such as MDMA or ecstasy
Get Anxiety and Depression Treatment With Klarity
Managing your anxiety and depression can be challenging, and searching for the best medication for you can seem nearly impossible to do alone. Let Klarity help.
At Klarity, we offer affordable care for your mental health at your convenience. We will set you up with a licensed and experienced healthcare provider in your area who will help navigate this process with you to find the best, individualized treatment plan for you.
No insurance? No problem! We offer our telehealth services without the hassles associated with the traditional psych office clinic visit. There is no insurance or subscriptions needed and no hidden costs. Get started today and receive your monthly care and prescriptions starting at $25 per month.
If you are ready to take the next steps and get started addressing your symptoms, schedule an appointment today or simply start by taking our free 2-minute self-assessment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Luvox and Zoloft
Throughout the article, we went through a lot of information comparing Luvox and Zoloft, and we know it can be confusing. We have listed the most commonly asked questions below, and if you want to learn more about which medications may be best for you, schedule an appointment today.
Does Zoloft Make You Gain Weight? Does Luvox?
Weight gain is a common side effect of most SSRI antidepressants. The average weight gain is roughly 1-10 lbs when first starting the medication, but not everyone reacts to medications the same or experiences weight gain. When comparing Luvox and Zoloft, Zoloft is more likely to cause weight gain than Luvox.
Is Zoloft or Luvox Better for Anxiety?
While both medications are known to effectively treat anxiety symptoms, Zoloft is typically a better choice for generalized anxiety. If you suffer from OCD anxiety, Luvox may be a better choice for treating your anxiety symptoms.
Can I Replace Zoloft with Luvox?
Since both medications are SSRIs, technically, they can replace one another. Although, this should be done under the close supervision of your healthcare provider, as the dosing is different with each medication and should be tapered from one medication to another.
Is Zoloft Energizing or Sedating? What About Luvox?
Zoloft and Luvox are known to be more energizing SSRI medications. With this effect, it is important to monitor your sleeping and anxiety levels, as when starting to take either medication, you may experience difficulty falling asleep or have increased anxiety or agitation.
Does Zoloft Cause Brain Fog? Does Luvox?
Zoloft and Luvox are actually known to treat brain fog, which is a common symptom of depression. Although, it is important to remember that everyone reacts to medications differently, and you may experience an increase of brain fog when taking either medication.
Can I Drink Alcohol On Luvox? On Zoloft?
It is generally recommended to avoid alcohol while taking any SSRI medication due to the potential increase in side effects of the medication. It can also increase the effects of alcohol on the body.
Can I Drink Caffeine When I’m on Luvox? How About Zoloft?
While it is generally considered safe to drink caffeine while taking either medication, it is important to remember that caffeine is a drug itself and can have adverse effects if taken in excess.
What Is Better For Depression—Luvox or Zoloft?
Zoloft is considered to be a better choice for the treatment of most depressive psychiatric conditions when compared to Luvox.
What Is Better For OCD – Luvox or Zoloft?
When comparing the two medications, Luvox is known to be the better choice when treating OCD alone.
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