Does Sertraline cause Tardive Dyskinesia?(3+ factors)

This article will investigate the potential connection between Sertraline and tardive dyskinesia. It will also cover research studies and the factors that influence this side effect. Additionally, this article will also guide you on how to manage Sertraline-induced tardive dyskinesia.

Does Sertraline cause Tardive Dyskinesia?

Sertraline may induce tardive dyskinesia in a small number of individuals. It is a rare side effect that is not commonly reported, but antidepressants like Sertraline may trigger involuntary repetitive movements in some individuals (1).

Sertraline, brand name Zoloft, is a selective serotonin receptor inhibitor (SSRI) medication primarily used in the management of major depressive disorders. This medication is also commonly prescribed for conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and eating disorders like bulimia (2). 

As per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5), tardive dyskinesia is characterized as a medication-induced movement disorder that endures for a month or longer, even after altering or discontinuing medications (3). 

Typically, tardive dyskinesia is not directly linked to the specific antidepressant in use, like Sertraline., and various individual-specific factors may play a role in these involuntary movements. If you encounter tardive dyskinesia while on Sertraline, it is advisable to contact your healthcare provider for assessment and guidance.

What does research suggest?

There is limited research on tardive dyskinesia associated with Sertraline. However, several studies have linked the use of SSRI medications and tardive dyskinesia.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), only 10% of movement disorders induced by SSRIs have been reported as secondary to the use of Sertraline, particularly when used concurrently with other medications (2,4). These movement disorders are primarily attributed to presentations resembling tardive dyskinesia including symptoms such as tremors, dystonia chorea and akathisia (2,3,4).

The exact mechanism through which Sertraline triggers movement disorders is not fully understood; however, some studies have hypothesized that the major mechanisms involve Sertraline’s impact on serotonin and dopamine pathways and genetic receptor variations (1,4).

Sertraline exerts its effects by primarily inhibiting serotonin reuptake, leading to the accumulation of serotonin in the Central Nervous System (CNS) (2). Serotonin potentiates the inhibition of dopamine production, resulting in the upregulation of dopamine receptor responsiveness and tardive dyskinesia (1).

Tardive dyskinesia is also considered a late-onset extrapyramidal symptom of Sertraline (5).

What factors contribute to Sertraline-induced tardive dyskinesia?

Sertraline-induced tardive dyskinesia can be influenced by various factors, particularly patient-specific ones.  Each individual’s body reacts differently to medications, including Sertraline, and this variability can result in different presentations of tardive dyskinesia (3).

Patients with underlying conditions that may cause tardive dyskinesia on their own such as Schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease may experience worsened symptoms when taking Sertraline (1,3).

Additionally, concurrent use of other medications alongside Sertraline can contribute to tardive dyskinesia. Certain drugs, such as first-generation antipsychotics and antiemetics, when used together with Sertraline, might augment its side effects like tardive dyskinesia.

The dosage and duration of treatment with Sertraline also influence the likelihood of occurrence of tardive dyskinesia.

Other factors such as age and race may also affect the severity and likelihood of occurrence of tardive dyskinesia.

What to do if Sertraline causes tardive dyskinesia?

If you suspect Sertraline is the primary cause of tardive dyskinesia, it is important to discuss it with your healthcare provider. In most cases, your healthcare provider will recommend discontinuing this medication under their guidance. Your doctor may also recommend transitioning to a different medication with fewer side effects (1).

Furthermore, your healthcare provider may also adjust your medication dosage to reduce the risk of Sertraline-induced tardive dyskinesia. They may also recommend other medications to address the symptoms associated with tardive dyskinesia (1).

Eating antioxidant-rich foods can prevent tardive dyskinesia (1). Additionally, lifestyle modifications such as regularly monitoring your treatment, practising good sleep hygiene, and engaging in regular exercise may help in managing tardive dyskinesia symptoms.

The incidence and management of tardive dyskinesia are highly individualized, and you should openly communicate with your healthcare provider about your treatment. 


In this article, we have discussed tardive dyskinesia associated with Sertraline. We have examined some research studies, and how to manage this side effect. 

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!




Cornett EM, Novitch M, Kaye AD, Kata V, Kaye AM. Medication-Induced Tardive Dyskinesia: A Review and Update. The Ochsner journal [Internet]. 2017;17(2):162–74. Available from:




Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline [Internet]. PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2023 Sep 25]. Available from:




Vasan S, Padhy RK. Tardive Dyskinesia [Internet]. PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2023 Sep 25]. Available from:




Madhusoodanan S, Alexeenko L, Sanders R, Brenner R. Extrapyramidal symptoms associated with antidepressants—A review of the literature and an analysis of spontaneous reports. IngentaConnect [Internet]. 2010 Aug 1 [cited 2023 Sep 25];22(3):148–56. Available from:




Lambert MT, Trutia C, Petty F. Extrapyramidal adverse effects associated with sertraline. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry [Internet]. 1998 Jul [cited 2021 May 1];22(5):741–8. Available from:


Find a supportive therapist who can help with Depression.

Discover the convenience of BetterHelp, an online therapy platform connecting you with licensed and accredited therapists specialized in addressing issues such as depression, anxiety, relationships, and more. Complete the assessment and find your ideal therapist within just 48 hours.


AskYourPharm is user-supported. We may earn a commission if you sign up for BetterHelp’s services after clicking through from this site