Can Sertraline cause acid reflux?

In this article, we will discuss Sertraline-induced acid reflux. We will also discuss the incidence of this side effect and what people are generally more sensitive to it. We will also talk about some ways to manage Sertraline-induced acid reflux.

Can Sertraline cause acid reflux?

Yes, Sertraline can cause acid reflux. This is one of the commonly reported side effects and it was observed during clinical trials. 

Most people experience this side effect during the early course of their treatment, which does start to get better with time – as their bodies adjust to the medication. It may take up to 2-4 weeks (1,2). However, people are different and can respond differently to medications. 

For some people, Sertraline-induced acid reflux could be unbearable and may lead to discontinuation of the treatment if it persists. Acid reflux and gastrointestinal disturbances are also common with other antidepressants, like Lexapro, Trazodone, etc. 

It is important to closely monitor your side effects while being treated with Sertraline or any other antidepressant and report them to your doctor to make your treatment comfortable for you.

Sertraline-induced acid reflux, if left unmanaged, can damage your oesophagus and throat, and cause swallowing difficulties. It may also make you more susceptible to conditions like gastritis, etc which can cause painful symptoms and can affect the quality of your life.

Sertraline may also increase the risk of lower gastrointestinal issues, such as microscopic colitis, especially if other factors are included.

What is the incidence of Sertraline-induced acid reflux?

The incidence of acid reflux as a side effect of Sertraline can vary among individuals. It’s not extremely common, but it can occur in some people and has been reported in the past. 

The reported incidence of acid reflux with Sertraline is around 6% to 8% of people who take this medication (2,3). However, it’s important to note that individual responses to medications can differ, so some people may experience this side effect, while others may not. 

It is important to make sure that you discuss your side effects with your doctor and learn ways to prevent them or reduce their intensity.

How can Sertraline cause acid reflux?

Sertraline is a type of medication known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It’s often used to help balance the levels of serotonin in the brain, which can improve mood and emotions (1). However, serotonin doesn’t just affect the brain – it also has a role in the digestive system.

In the stomach, serotonin can influence the muscles that control the opening between the stomach and the oesophagus, which is called the lower oesophagal sphincter (LES). (4)

The LES normally works like a valve, keeping stomach acid from flowing back into the oesophagus. When serotonin levels change due to medications like Sertraline, it might affect how well the LES works. (4)

If the LES isn’t working as it should, stomach acid can sometimes flow back up into the oesophagus, causing that uncomfortable sensation we know as acid reflux. So, it’s possible that the changes in serotonin levels caused by Sertraline could contribute to this side effect for some people.

What to do if Sertraline causes acid reflux?

If you’re experiencing acid reflux as a side effect of Sertraline, it’s important to discuss it with your healthcare provider. One common approach is to adjust the dosage of Sertraline. 

Sometimes, a lower dose may reduce the likelihood of acid reflux while still providing the desired benefits for mood and emotions. Your doctor will carefully consider the right balance for you. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to help control acid reflux. 

These can include antacids or medications that reduce stomach acid production.

Your doctor may also check the other medications you take that might contribute to acid reflux – like the use of OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can increase the risk of gastrointestinal side effects (5). 

If acid reflux becomes a significant issue and other measures don’t help, your doctor might consider switching you to a different antidepressant. 

They’ll usually do this by gradually tapering off Sertraline and introducing the new medication to minimize any withdrawal or side effects. It’s essential never to stop Sertraline abruptly, as this can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

What you should and shouldn’t do when suffering from Sertraline-induced acid reflux?

There are some things that you should and shouldn’t do when experiencing acid reflux on Sertraline. Let’s take a look at some important tips:


  • Opt for smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day rather than large, heavy ones.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum after meals can help increase saliva production, which can neutralize stomach acid.
  • Stay upright after eating for at least 2-3 hours to allow gravity to keep stomach acid down.
  • Choose low-acid food, like oatmeal, bananas, rice, and whole grains – as they tend to be gentle on the stomach and can be good choices.
  • Stay well-hydrated with water, which can help dilute stomach acid.


  • Avoid spicy foods, as spicy foods can irritate the oesophagus and worsen acid reflux.
  • Citrus fruits and juices, like oranges and grapefruits, can trigger acid reflux in some people.
  • Say no to fried and fatty foods, as they can significantly worsen acid reflux. 
  • Watch your caffeine, as caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea can promote acid reflux.
  • Avoid the excessive use of alcohol.

Remember that what triggers acid reflux can vary from person to person, so it’s a good idea to keep a food diary to identify your specific triggers. 

Lifestyle and dietary changes are crucial when experiencing acid reflux, and these habits can either help you feel better or worse. So, choose the foods you eat wisely. 


In this article, we have discussed Sertraline-induced acid reflux. We have also discussed the incidence of this side effect and some ways to manage Sertraline-induced acid reflux.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ZOLOFT (sertraline hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use. Available from:


Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. 2023 Feb 13. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 31613469. Available from:


Wang Z, Li H, Kang Y, Liu Y, Shan L, Wang F. Risks of Digestive System Side-Effects of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors in Patients with Depression: A Network Meta-Analysis. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2022 Aug 13;18:799-812. doi: 10.2147/TCRM.S363404. PMID: 35992228; PMCID: PMC9386738.


Brahm NC, Kelly-Rehm MC. Antidepressant-mediated gastroesophageal reflux disease. Consult Pharm. 2011 Apr;26(4):274-8. doi: 10.4140/TCP.n.2011.274. PMID: 21486738.


de Jong JC, van den Berg PB, Tobi H, de Jong-van den Berg LT. Combined use of SSRIs and NSAIDs increases the risk of gastrointestinal adverse effects. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2003 Jun;55(6):591-5. doi: 10.1046/j.0306-5251.2002.01770.x. PMID: 12814454; PMCID: PMC1884264.

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