Does Sertraline contain Lithium? (3+ key differences)

In this article, we will discuss whether Sertraline is structurally or chemically similar to Lithium. We will also talk about the key differences to help you understand the basic pharmacological uses of these medications.

Does Sertraline contain Lithium?

No, Sertraline does not contain Lithium. Sertraline and Lithium are different medications which can be used for different therapeutic reasons. However, they may manage similar symptoms in some cases.

Both Sertraline and Lithium are prescription medications which should only be used when prescribed by a qualified healthcare professional.

Make sure you do not take these medications if not approved by your doctor or combine them together.

What are the key differences between Sertraline and Lithium?

Sertraline and Lithium have the following key differences:

Mechanisms of action

Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the entire world. Sertraline works by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, an excitatory neurotransmitter, by blocking serotonin transporters (SERT). (1)

This increases the availability of serotonin in the brain, which helps improve mood and relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Lithium, on the other hand, is a mood stabiliser (2). The exact mechanism of action of Lithium is not fully understood, but it appears to help regulate certain neurotransmitters in the brain, reducing the severity and frequency of mood swings in bipolar disorder.

Therapeutic uses

Sertraline is used for the management and treatment of the following conditions (1):

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

Lithium, on the other hand, is used to manage the symptoms associated with mania and bipolar disorder (2). It can also be used to manage major depressive disorder in some cases.

Side effects

Sertraline is commonly associated with side effects, including (3):

Lithium, on the other hand, is associated with side effects like (4):

  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Indigestion
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation
  • Weight changes
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle or joint pain

These side effects can vary from person to person and can depend on factors like an individual’s age, weight, current symptoms, dosage strength of the medication used, underlying health condition, and overall physiological well-being.

It is also important to note that Sertraline and Lithium may cause some rare side effects, which should be immediately reported to a doctor.

Withdrawal symptoms

Both Sertraline and Lithium can cause disturbing withdrawal symptoms if stopped abruptly (1,2). If you use either of these medications, make sure you do not make any changes to your dosage without consulting your doctor first.

How to choose between Sertraline and Lithium?

The choice between Sertraline and Lithium depends on the symptoms one suffers from and the most appropriate medication should only be decided by a qualified healthcare practitioner.

Lithium is considered a good medication for people struggling with bipolar disorder. Sertraline, on the other hand, can aggravate bipolar symptoms and should not be prescribed to such patients.

Your diagnosis is the most critical factor here and the medication should be decided on the basis of that. It is also important to note that both of these medications require monitoring. So, make sure you attend follow-up appointments and keep discussing your concerns with your doctor.

Can you take Sertraline and Lithium together?

Sertraline and Lithium should not be taken together. Both of these meds can affect your brain chemistry and taking them together can increase the risk of a rare, but life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome. This condition is associated with a number of disturbing symptoms, including (5):

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Tremors
  • Fever with chills
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Incoordination

Severe cases can increase the risk of coma or death. This is why such combinations should be avoided.


In this article, we have discussed the key differences between Sertraline and Lithium. We have also discussed how one should always follow their doctor’s expertise to make the right decisions.

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


Chokhawala K, Lee S, Saadabadi A. Lithium. 2023 Feb 26. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 30085604. Available from:


National Library of Medicine. Sertraline: MedlinePlus Drug Information [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available from:


National Library of Medicine. Lithium: MedlinePlus Drug Information [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available from:


Simon LV, Keenaghan M. Serotonin Syndrome. 2023 Jul 17. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 29493999. Available from:

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