Can Sertraline be used to treat OCD? (3 research findings)

In this article, we will discuss using Sertraline (also known as Zoloft) to treat OCD. We will also look at research findings, recommended doses, and how to ensure the safe and effective use of Sertraline in OCD. 

Can Sertraline be used to treat OCD?

Yes, Sertraline (Zoloft) can be used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It has been approved by the FDA for OCD treatment. As a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Sertraline has shown its effectiveness in managing OCD symptoms (1).  

What does research suggest?

Research studies have shown that Sertraline can be helpful for strange and distressing thoughts, which lead to specific behaviours to deal with these thoughts. Patients with OCD may also develop feelings of fear of harm from others.

Such thoughts and behaviours impact the patient’s life to a large extent(4). Sertraline, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), is used for various mental health conditions including depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Researchers believe that serotonin plays an important role in OCD. In a reported case study, patients took different doses of Sertraline for 8 weeks, and their symptoms improved compared to the fake pill. In contrast, when patients took fixed doses of Sertraline for 12 weeks, it also worked well.

This study suggests that Sertraline is safe and effective for treating OCD (5). Sertraline also improved the quality of life for the patients using the medication and prevented the return of OCD symptoms (2).

Another case study looked at how well Sertraline works for patients with OCD over a long time. The results showed that most patients who took Sertraline for two years continued to get better and didn’t cause many problems proving it to be a safe medication (6).

What are the dosage recommendations of Sertraline for OCD?

Following are the dosage recommendations of Sertraline for OCD: 

Age group Dosage Administration Maximum daily dose 
Adults or teenagers 50mg once a day 200mg 
Children aged 13-17 50mg once a day 200mg
Children aged 6-12 25mg once a day 200mg
Children aged 6 or below Not recommended (1)

How to ensure safe and effective use of Sertraline in OCD?

Zoloft is taken once a day in the morning or evening and it is better absorbed when taken with food. If the patient is not responding well to the prescribed dose, the doctor may increase the dose at weekly intervals, however, it should not exceed the maximum limit of 200mg per day.

Your doctor may wait for a week before increasing the dose to see how it’s working. Sertraline is safe for elderly people, but your doctor may start with a lower dose due to certain health concerns.

Elderly patients may also benefit from a therapy called ”Exposure and Response therapy”, as it is found to be an effective therapy for older patients with OCD to reduce their symptoms.  

The dose of Sertraline depends on the condition and other health problems of a patient so it can vary from person to person. If a patient is found to have mild liver problems alongside OCD, the doctor may prescribe low doses of Sertraline.

Due to insufficient research data, Sertraline is not recommended for patients who have moderate to severe liver problems. Some patients may also experience a few common side effects when taking Zoloft for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), including nausea, diarrhoea, tremors, stomach discomfort, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, agitation, sweating, or sexual side effects.

Children using Sertraline for OCD should be strictly monitored for any possible side effects, especially at the beginning of treatment. Some children may experience unusual thoughts or behaviours.

Some may lose their appetite, so it is important to monitor their weight and growth throughout the treatment of OCD with Sertraline(1,3). If Sertraline is not improving your OCD symptoms, inform your doctor. They may increase the dose at weekly intervals and assess your response accordingly. 

Who should not use Sertraline for OCD?

You should not use Sertraline if you are hypersensitive to it and take certain medications like Disulfiram, Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MOAI) antidepressants, or Pimozide (an anti-psychotic drug). 


In this article, we have discussed the use of Sertraline in treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The research studies have shown its effectiveness in helping patients with OCD manage their symptoms. 

Dosage recommendations for Sertraline vary depending on age, with maximum daily doses specified for different age groups. If Sertraline does not lead to improvement in your OCD symptoms, inform your doctor. They may increase the dose gradually at weekly intervals, but it should not exceed 200mg per day. 


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