Does Sertraline affect motivation? (3 case studies)

In this article, we will discuss the effects of Sertraline, an antidepressant, on motivation. We will also discuss why Sertraline can have an impact on your mood, energy, and motivation, and what you should do if Sertraline affects your health.

Does Sertraline affect motivation?

Sertraline can affect motivation or cause a lack of motivation in some individuals. However, this side effect can vary from person to person. Not everyone may experience a lack of motivation when taking an antidepressant, like Sertraline. 

In fact, some people may even feel more motivated as a result of using Sertraline. This is because a lack of motivation and hopelessness are common symptoms of depression (1). 

It’s quite common for people to lose interest in various aspects of their lives, such as their education, health, career, and relationships, when they’re feeling depressed. 

Antidepressants like Sertraline are actually designed to help alleviate these symptoms by managing depression and anxiety. As a result, some individuals may find themselves feeling more motivated while taking Sertraline. However, it’s important to note that medications can affect people differently.

What does research suggest?

Research studies have found a link between the use of Sertraline and lack of motivation. One research study observed people who were taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including Sertraline, for managing depression and anxiety (2). 

The researchers found that those taking SSRIs had higher scores for a condition called apathy compared to those who weren’t taking these medications. Apathy is a condition associated with a lack of motivation and interest in different things (2,3). 

It was also found that Sertraline was less likely to cause apathy because of its effects on dopamine, but some cases of Sertraline-induced apathy were reported. This indicates that Sertraline and other SSRIs are linked to a lack of motivation. 

Another study presented a case report including a 12-year-old girl who developed a condition called ‘amotivational syndrome’ while taking Sertraline (4). 

This side effect was reversed once Sertraline was discontinued and the girl was switched to Fluoxetine, another SSRI. This suggests that Sertraline can affect motivation in some individuals, including children.

Is Sertraline-induced lack of motivation reversible?

Sertraline-induced lack of motivation can be reversible for some people. As mentioned earlier, Sertraline is designed to help with symptoms of depression, including a lack of motivation or desire to do things. 

Some people who are new to this antidepressant may experience this side effect, but it often improves as the body adjusts to the medication. Sertraline takes time to start working, but once it does, it can be effective in addressing a lack of motivation or depression in general. It can also help with focus.

However, in some cases, Sertraline may lead to a persistent lack of motivation. It’s important to monitor your side effects while taking Sertraline and discuss them with your doctor. 

What to do if Sertraline affects your motivation? 

If Sertraline affects your motivation, talk to your healthcare provider. Your doctor may make adjustments to your dose if you’re new to this antidepressant or if your dose was recently increased. 

It’s important to be patient when using any antidepressant. These medicines need time to work in your body and improve your symptoms. For some people, it may take up to 12 weeks to see results, so be sure to give it enough time. 

It’s also important to maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle. Unhealthy habits can contribute to a lack of motivation. So, surround yourself with people who care about you and support your recovery.

However, Serraline may not work well for everyone. If this antidepressant continues to negatively impact your mental health instead of improving it, your doctor will safely switch you to another medication. It’s important not to stop using Sertraline suddenly.


In this article, we have discussed whether Sertraline can affect motivation. We have also discussed that this side effect can be reversible for some people as their treatment with Sertraline continues, but some people may not recover without discontinuing Sertraline.


  1. Chand SP, Arif H. Depression. 2023 Jul 17. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 28613597. 
  1. Padala PR, Padala KP, Majagi AS, Garner KK, Dennis RA, Sullivan DH. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors-associated apathy syndrome: A cross-sectional study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Aug 14;99(33):e21497. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000021497. PMID: 32871995; PMCID: PMC7437849. 
  1. Fahed M, Steffens DC. Apathy: Neurobiology, Assessment and Treatment. Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci. 2021 May 31;19(2):181-189. doi: 10.9758/cpn.2021.19.2.181. PMID: 33888648; PMCID: PMC8077060. 
  1. Yildiz Bayindir B, Karayagmurlu A. Sertraline-Induced Amotivationel Syndrome in a 12-Year-Old Girl: A Case Report. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2021 Jul-Aug 01;44(4):154-155. doi: 10.1097/WNF.0000000000000455. PMID: 33871427. 

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