Can Sertraline cause dementia? (3 possible reasons)

In this article, we will discuss the topic: “Can Sertraline cause dementia?” Furthermore, we will talk about supporting research findings, who is more prone to experience dementia, what the symptoms are, and what to do if you experience dementia.

Can Sertraline cause dementia?

Yes, Sertraline (Zoloft) may cause dementia in some individuals.  Antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), can increase the risk of dementia in depressed patients.

However, elderly patients are at a higher risk of experiencing dementia while using antidepressants such as Sertraline. It is important to consider that not everyone using Sertraline may experience this side effect, as people vary in their physiological responses to the medication.

What does research suggest?

According to research studies, dementia is more commonly reported in elderly depressed patients being treated with SSRIs. Dementia is a condition that decreases a person’s thinking and memory abilities and makes it difficult for them to perform daily tasks (1,3).

Dementia may not necessarily be caused by antidepressants like Sertraline; many factors may contribute to its occurrence, including various mental health conditions. Younger patients may also develop dementia due to head injuries or brain tumours.

While treating mood disorders, antidepressants, like Sertraline, may also have some negative effects on the brain. Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that works by increasing serotonin levels (a chemical neurotransmitter) in the brain, hence improving mood disorders.

Depression itself is a risk factor for dementia, so it is necessary to identify the main reason behind this potential side effect. However, more research is needed to fully understand these mechanisms (2).

Who is more prone to dementia while using Sertraline?

Some risk factors increase the chances of dementia in patients using Sertraline, including:

  • Age of the patient
  • Family history
  • Depression
  • Infections of the brain like meningitis and syphilis
  • Excessive alcohol consumption, lack of nutrition, smoking
  • Other medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Down syndrome

What are the symptoms of dementia while using Sertraline?

Patients with dementia may have problems with memory and thinking abilities, which affects their daily lives. Some signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in performing simple tasks
  • Agitation and mood swings
  • Inability to communicate properly
  • Short-term memory loss (3)

What to do if Sertraline causes dementia?

If you experience any signs and symptoms of dementia while using Sertraline, you should inform your doctor. They will examine your current symptoms, other underlying health conditions, and your response to the treatment.

Due to the increased risk of dementia in elderly patients, your doctor must prescribe Sertraline and other SSRIs cautiously. They will provide clear guidelines for the use of antidepressants and closely monitor you for any symptoms of dementia.

Do not discontinue any antidepressant without informing your healthcare provider. If necessary, your doctor may suggest discontinuing Sertraline, but with a proper tapering plan and gradually reducing the dose.

If you are experiencing symptoms of dementia, you may try some of the following lifestyle modifications to cope with it:

  • Quit smoking as it may increase the risk of dementia.
  • Maintain a well-balanced diet and take vitamin supplements.
  • Be physically active and lose weight if you are obese.
  • Manage your blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes.
  • Take your antidepressants regularly at the same time each day.
  • Ensure you get 8-9 hours of sleep daily.


In this article, we have discussed the possibility that Sertraline (Zoloft) and other antidepressants like SSRIs may be associated with an increased risk of dementia, especially in elderly patients.

Some factors may increase the likelihood of dementia using Sertraline, including age, family history, and other medical conditions. Young patients may also experience due to head injuries or brain tumours.

It is important to inform your doctor if you experience any symptoms of dementia while being treated with Sertraline (Zoloft) for depression. Therefore, antidepressants like Sertraline must be cautiously prescribed, and proper guidance must be provided to patients at risk of experiencing dementia.

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Solomonov N, Alexopoulos GS. Do Antidepressants Increase the Risk of Dementia? Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2019 Nov;27(11):1189-1191. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2019.06.004. Epub 2019 Jun 21. PMID: 31320244; PMCID: PMC7063578. Available from: 


Wang YC, Tai PA, Poly TN, Islam MM, Yang HC, Wu CC, Li YJ. Increased Risk of Dementia in Patients with Antidepressants: A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. Behav Neurol. 2018 Jul 10;2018:5315098. doi: 10.1155/2018/5315098. PMID: 30123386; PMCID: PMC6079596. Available from: 


Gale SA, Acar D, Daffner KR. Dementia. Am J Med. 2018 Oct;131(10):1161-1169. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2018.01.022. Epub 2018 Feb 6. PMID: 29425707. Available from: 


Valkanova V, Ebmeier KP, Allan CL. Depression is linked to dementia in older adults. Practitioner. 2017 Jan;261(1800):11-5. PMID: 29023080. Available from: 

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