Does Sertraline affect athletic performance? (3+ risks)
In this article, we will discuss whether Sertraline affects athletic performance. We will also discuss research studies and how to manage Sertraline use if you are an athlete.
Does Sertraline affect athletic performance?
Yes, Sertraline may affect athletic performance in some individuals. However, individual responses to medications like Sertraline can vary, so not everyone will experience the same side effects.
Sertraline, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, is a commonly used antidepressant for the treatment of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions (1).
The decision to use Sertraline or any other medication should prioritize overall well-being and mental health, with careful consideration of how it may affect athletic performance as one factor among others.
What does research suggest?
There are several research studies on SSRI use and athletic performance.
One study indicated that some athletes were scared of using antidepressants to relieve anxiety and depression, as they were concerned about the effects of antidepressants on their physical performance. After using Sertraline under the guidance of a psychiatrist, they found that this medication stopped their anxiety attacks and made them feel more energetic (2).
Another study indicated that both short-term and long-term use of SSRIs do not impact the strength or intense exercise performance of young adults (3).
Although these studies indicated the safe use of Sertraline by athletes, however, the responses may differ from person to person. Some people experience sedation, dizziness and drowsiness during Sertraline use which results in low energy levels and difficulty concentrating thereby leading to decreased athletic performance.
Potential risks of using Sertraline by athletes
Here are some risks associated with sertraline use which may affect athletic performance:
Weight changes: Sertraline can lead to weight loss in some individuals which can affect athletic performance, particularly in sports such as weight lifting or distance racing.
Dehydration: Some SSRIs, including Sertraline, can cause increased sweating, which may lead to dehydration during physical activity. Athletes should be aware of this potential side effect as proper hydration is essential for optimal athletic performance.
Interaction with other medications: Athletes should be cautious about potential interactions between Sertraline and other medications or supplements they may be taking. Some drug interactions could affect performance or health.
Individual Variation: The impact of Sertraline on individual performance can vary widely among individuals. Some people may not notice any significant effects on their physical performance, while others may experience noticeable changes.
Muscle strength and power: Sertraline does not directly affect muscle strength or power. However, some individuals may experience fatigue or changes in energy levels as a side effect of Sertraline which indirectly impairs muscle strength and power.
Potential benefits of using Sertraline by athletes
Benefits associated with Sertraline use by athletes are:
- Improved mood and reduced symptoms of anxiety or depression.
- Increased mental well-being can positively impact motivation and focus.
- Better stress management can lead to reduced performance-related anxiety.
- Increased compliance with training and recovery regimens due to improved mental health.
Tips to manage athletic performance during Sertraline use
Here are some tips for managing athletic performance during Sertraline use:
- Stick to a regular exercise schedule to help adapt to any potential changes.
- Stay hydrated as proper hydration is crucial for optimal athletic performance.
- Eat a balanced diet to support your energy levels and overall health.
- Keep your healthcare provider informed of any changes or concerns related to your athletic performance.
- If you consider significant performance issues, discuss potential medication adjustments or alternative treatments with your healthcare provider.
Sertraline can have an individualized effect on athletic performance. While it may lead to side effects like fatigue or changes in motivation, these impacts vary among individuals. For some people reduction in anxiety and depression leads to better overall well-being, which can indirectly benefit athletic performance. Athletes should work closely with their healthcare provider to manage any side effects and find a treatment plan that supports both their mental health and athletic goals.
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Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline. [Updated 2023 Feb 13]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547689/