What is Lustral (sertraline)? Uses, dosage and side effects

22 June 2019 |   Category: Brain Diseases, Medicines
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Lustral (Sertraline) is a type of antidepressant that can also be prescribed for people with panic attacks, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). By increasing the level of serotonin in the brain, it can help improve mood, reduce panic attacks and effectively treat OCD. It usually takes four to six weeks for one to feel all the effects. Lustral, which is sold only under prescription, can cause slight side effects such as fatigue, headache, insomnia and dry mouth. However, it has less side effects than the old antidepressants.

What is Lustral (Sertraline)?

Sertraline is a drug belonging to a group of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). It is often used in the treatment of depression as well as panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Serotonin, a chemical that is produced and released by our brain to provide communication between neurotransmitters, is a substance that affects emotions, mood and behaviors. In cases of depression and anxiety, the amount of serotonin released from the brain decreases. Sertraline has fewer side effects than most antidepressants.

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What does Lustral do?

Sertraline is used in adults in the treatment of:

  • Depression
  • Panic disorders
  • Social anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (including children aged 6 to 18)

How does Lustral work?

Neurons secrete various chemical substances to stimulate other nerve cells. This leads to the generation of electrical signals that enable many functions controlled by the brain. Serotonin is one of these chemicals. When serotonin is secreted, it stimulates other nerve cells, enters nerve cells and is recycled.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as sertraline, increase the amount of serotonin circulating in the user’s brain. This helps to improve the disorders such as depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. For the full effect of sertraline, it should be used for average of 4-6 weeks. In some individuals, effect can be seen earlier.

Which diseases does Lustral treat?

Sertraline is also used in the treatment of panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, apart from depression.

Lustral in the treatment of depression

Sertraline ensures a high level of serotonin in the brain by preventing the retrieval of secreted serotonin to nerve cells. Thus, a decrease in the symptoms of depression can be felt. Other drugs in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors group, including sertraline, also show a similar effect.

What is depression? Causes, symptoms, types and treatment

Sertraline in the treatment of panic attacks

It is effective in the treatment of panic disorder including panic attack, which is accompanied by the fear of closed area, agoraphobia.

Sertraline in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder

It is effective in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The efficacy and safety of the treatment of this disease for up to 2 years have been scientifically demonstrated. It is used in adults and children older than 6 years.

Sertraline in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder

In order to overcome the psychological traumas experienced by individuals due to serious, intimidating and horrifying events, drug therapies should be applied as well as psychotherapy. Sertraline is one of the effective antidepressants used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

How to use Lustral?

  • Sertraline is usually given a single dose per day.
  • There is no harm to take it with meals or on an empty stomach.
  • It can be taken at any time during the day, but it is always recommended to take it at the same time.
  • If insomnia occurs due to the use of the drug, it can be taken in the morning. Similarly, if it makes drowsiness, but it can be taken at night.
  • If the dose is forgotten in the period of use, the skipped dose can be taken immediately. However, the skipped drug is not to be taken if the next scheduled dose is too close. Since the continuity of use in antidepressant drugs is important, try not to skip a dose. You can set an alarm for this, or put a post-it in your visual field.
  • Grapefruit should not be consumed when using sertraline. Some chemicals in the grapefruit may increase the amount of sertraline in the bloodstream, making the drug harmful.
  • When using sertraline, always consult your physician and pharmacist before taking any medication and drinking alcohol. Alcohol and drugs interact with sertraline and cause negative consequences. Individuals using sertraline may experience self-harm or suicidal tendencies. If you have such feelings, make sure to talk to your doctor.
  • As in all antidepressants, sertraline treatment should not be suddenly discontinued. In this way, the effect of abruptly ending the treatment can lead to adverse effects that can last for months.
  • If you have a problem with blood sugar, share this with your doctor. Blood sugar levels may be affected when using sertraline.
  • Sertraline can sometimes cause skin sensitivity in the sun. Always use sunscreen if you see any skin reaction.
  • The risk of bone fracture is observed especially in individuals after the age of 50 years with the use of serotonin reuptake inhibitors, including sertraline. Therefore, you need to evaluate the benefit-risk ratio along with what is most important for you in terms of recovery.

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Lustral doses and dose calculation

The general initial dose for sertraline is 50 mg for adults. This dose is gradually increased after a few weeks of use by your physician. The maximum daily dose in patients with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder is 200 mg.

In patients with social disorder and panic attack, the daily starting dose is usually 25 mg. After the first week, the dose is increased to 50 mg. The starting dose of sertraline in children between 6-12 years of age is 25 mg daily, it is increased depending on the situation. The dose with teenagers is similar to the one given to adults.

What is the intensity and duration of the use of Lustral?

There is no clear and definite time for the use of sertraline. Your physician will decide on the condition and severity of your illness and the most accurate duration of use depending on whether you have any comorbidity (one or more additional conditions co-occurring with your primary condition). It has been reported that it should be used at least 6 months in various sources for the treatment of depression.

Who should not use Lustral?

Sertraline may be inconvenient for the following conditions:

  • Patients with a history of sensitivity to the active substance of sertraline
  • Individuals with heart problems
  • People with diabetes
  • Individuals with pregnancy or likelihood
  • People with severe liver disease
  • Individuals with glaucoma
  • Those who use different drugs
  • Individuals with epilepsy or electroconvulsive treatment

Sertraline should be used with the physician’s prescription. Before using the medication, patients with the aforementioned diseases or any other special conditions should always inform their physicians.

Which drugs should not be used with Lustral?

Possible drug groups in which sertraline interacts are as follows:

  • Common cold medications
  • Sleeping pills
  • Opioid type pain relievers
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Epilepsy drugs
  • Drugs used in addiction treatment
  • Contraceptives
  • John’s wort supplements

As with many drugs, the combined use of alcohol and sertraline is inconvenient and increases side effects. However, before using any kind of supplements, especially St. John’s wort, the opinion of the physician and pharmacist should be taken. Antidepressants can interact with drugs and nutrients.

Lustral during breastfeeding and pregnancy

The health of the mother and the baby during pregnancy is very important. If you get pregnant while using sertraline, please inform your physician. Pregnancy category of sertraline is C. If the potential benefit of the use of sertraline is greater, the use of the drug may be continued. Only your physician can make this decision.

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The drug passes into breast milk. However, this amount was found to be insignificant in scientific studies. Therefore, it can be preferred during breastfeeding period. With the suggestion of your doctor, you can continue to use sertraline during breastfeeding. However, if your baby shows a drowsiness or unusual situation, inform your physician.

Side effects of Lustral

The symptoms may worsen in people who use the drug for panic attacks in the first few weeks. However, if the effects of the drug disappear within a few weeks, if you are uncomfortable, talk to your doctor. He/she may choose to continue your treatment with a dose reduction or medication change. Side effects after the use of sertraline are classified as follows:

Common side effects

These side effects are seen in 1 out of 100 people:

  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Serious side effects

These side effects are seen less than 1 in every 100 people. If you observe any of the following side effects, please contact the nearest health facility:

  • Difficulty in breathing, chest pain or pressure
  • Severe dizziness, fainting
  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop in 10 minutes
  • Headaches, focus and memory problems, weakness, loss of balance
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Feeling too energetic to stay in place, not feeling tired
  • Yellowish color in skin or eye whites
  • Abnormal conditions related to bleeding such as blood in urine or feces, bleeding without cause in the gums, etc.

Rarely, some people may be allergic to the active substance of sertraline. When using sertraline:

  • If you see red, water blisters in your skin
  • If you have difficulty in breathing
  • If your face, eye, tongue and lips are swollen, consult the nearest emergency room immediately.

How do I prevent Lustral’s side effects?

There are some measures that may be used to lessen the side effects of using sertraline:

  • Nausea: Take your medicine after meals.
  • Headache: Make sure you rest enough and consume enough water. Do not consume alcohol. You can use a painkiller with the advice of your pharmacist and your doctor.
  • Inability to sleep: Take your medicine in the morning.
  • Continuous drowsiness: Take your medicine at night.
  • Diarrhea: Consume plenty of fluid to prevent water loss from your body. Talk to your doctor for the treatment of diarrhea.

Do not use tools and machinery when using sertraline, do not work in jobs that require attention. Although there are risks of various side effects, remember that you are using this drug because the potential benefit is higher than these side effects. Never stop your treatment on your own. When you have any hesitation, please consult your doctor and pharmacist.


References: 1- Sertraline, 2- How does sertraline work?, 3- Sertraline (Lustral)

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