Does Sertraline improve learning? (3+ positive impacts)

In this article, we will explore the relationship between Sertraline – a selective serotonin receptor inhibitor (SSRI) and learning. We will explore the effects of Sertraline on cognitive function and the benefits of Sertraline in learning.

Does Sertraline improve learning?

Yes, Sertraline (Zoloft) does improve learning in some individuals. Learning, as a multifaceted cognitive process involving the acquisition, processing, and retention of information, is positively influenced by Sertraline in most individuals (1,2).

People dealing with depression and other mental health disorders often encounter challenges in grasping concepts during the learning process, with learning difficulties often serving as early indicators of these mood disorders.

Antidepressants like Sertraline are formulated to mitigate learning difficulties by addressing the associated underlying disorders such as anxiety and depression. As a result, some individuals may notice an improvement in their learning abilities while using Sertraline.

Sertraline may take time to manage these underlying conditions and as such one’s learning abilities may take time to improve. However, it is 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 improved learning and cognitive function. One such study on Sertraline’s effects on patients with vascular cognitive impairment revealed that Sertraline enhanced individuals’ executive control function (4). The improvement in executive control functions is closely associated with improved memory and increased flexibility in thinking, which significantly improves learning abilities.

Another study examining the effects of SSRIs on memory function in older patients indicated that SSRI antidepressants, including Sertraline, improved memory function in some individuals, a vital aspect of the learning process (5).

In a separate study exploring Sertraline’s effects on language development in young children with Fragile X syndrome (FXS), it was suggested that early Sertraline use had beneficial effects on the trajectory of language development in children with FXS disorder (6).

Furthermore, a study investigating the influence of Sertraline on attention and verbal memory in young people with anxiety disorders demonstrated Sertraline’s effectiveness in enhancing attention and verbal memory (7).

How does Sertraline improve learning?

Sertraline increases the amount of serotonin in your brain by inhibiting the reuptake of the excitatory chemical (3). This helps more serotonin receptors bind to its receptors and exert the following effects.

By alleviating anxiety and depression symptoms, Sertraline indirectly improves an individual’s concentration in learning tasks by enhancing an individual’s focus.

Additionally, Sertraline addresses depression symptoms such as hopelessness and lack of interest in some individuals, helping them to feel more motivated and boosting their learning capabilities.

Sertraline’s mood-stabilizing effects may create a more conducive emotional environment for learning and enhancing receptivity to new information through emotional regulation.

Some studies suggest that Sertraline may promote neuroplasticity –  the brain’s ability to adapt and form new neural connections, which may potentially enhance one’s memory and learning abilities.

However, it is important to note that Sertraline may negatively affect focus in some individuals making them zone out, especially in the early phases of treatment,  and may also impair learning capabilities in some individuals.

Does Sertraline improve learning right away?

No, Sertraline does not start to improve learning right away. Sertraline may typically take 4-6 weeks to exert its effects. It may alleviate physical symptoms associated with depression and anxiety earlier, but the psychological symptoms may take some time to work.

As mentioned earlier, Sertraline is also associated with some early side effects that may negatively affect an individual’s learning processes such as apathy, demotivation, and impaired concentration. However, these side effects tend to go away as your body adjusts to the medication.

While taking this medication it is important to follow your prescriber’s instructions and to frequently consult with your healthcare provider.

Additionally, it is important to maintain a healthy and productive lifestyle while on this medication. This supplements the medication’s effectiveness and promotes focus and motivation for learning. 


In this article, we have discussed whether Sertraline can improve learning. We have also discussed the positive and a few of the negative effects of the medication on learning. 

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Lachman SJ. Learning is a Process: Toward an Improved Definition of Learning. The Journal of Psychology [Internet]. 1997 Sep [cited 2023 Sep 30];131(5):477–80. Available from:



Royall DR, Cordes JA, Román G, Velez A, Edwards A, Schillerstrom JS, et al. Sertraline Improves Executive Function in Patients With Vascular Cognitive Impairment. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences [Internet]. 2009 Oct [cited 2023 Sep 30];21(4):445–54. Available from:



Singh HK, Saadabadi A. Sertraline [Internet]. PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 [cited 2023 Sep 30]. Available from:



Royall DR, Cordes JA, Román G, Velez A, Edwards A, Schillerstrom JS, et al. Sertraline Improves Executive Function in Patients With Vascular Cognitive Impairment. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences [Internet]. 2009 Oct [cited 2023 Sep 30];21(4):445–54. Available from:



Schulkens JE, Deckers K, Jenniskens M, Blokland A, Verhey FR, Sobczak S. The effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors on memory functioning in older adults: A systematic literature review. Journal of Psychopharmacology [Internet]. 2022 Apr 29 [cited 2023 Sep 30];36(5):578–93. Available from:



Indah Winarni T, Chonchaiya W, Adams E, Au J, Mu Y, Rivera SM, et al. Sertraline May Improve Language Developmental Trajectory in Young Children with Fragile X Syndrome: A Retrospective Chart Review. Autism Research and Treatment [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2023 Sep 30];2012:1–8. Available from:



Günther T, Holtkamp K, Jolles J, Herpertz-Dahlmann B, Konrad K. The Influence of Sertraline on Attention and Verbal Memory in Children and Adolescents with Anxiety Disorders. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology [Internet]. 2005 Sep [cited 2023 Sep 30];15(4):608–18. Available from:


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