Does Sertraline shorten life span?(3 facts)

In this brief article, we will answer some questions like “Does Sertraline shorten life span?”. We will also discuss what scientific research suggests and when you should take medical advice.

Does Sertraline shorten life span?

Sertraline may or may not impact an individual’s lifespan. While Sertraline is associated with several side effects, there is no definitive evidence suggesting it directly shortens one’s life. However, it is important to acknowledge that individuals vary and their response to medications, including life expectancy, can vary significantly.

Sertraline is classified as a selective serotonin receptor inhibitor  (SSRI) antidepressant that is commonly prescribed for managing conditions such as major depressive disorders (MDD), obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), panic disorders and eating disorders (1).

It is widely prescribed due to its efficacy and relatively favourable side effect profile. In general, Sertraline can improve one’s life span by effectively managing the aforementioned conditions and alleviating negative symptoms such as suicidal ideation.

However, some recent clinical trials and long-term studies have indicated possible associations between the use of antidepressants, especially SSRIs, and a potential decrease in life span.

It is important to recognize that every individual responds differently to medications, especially antidepressants. You should closely monitor your side effects and maintain regular consultations with your doctor frequently.

What does research suggest?

Research on the effects of Sertraline on life expectancy is limited, and no specific data is indicating its incidence. However, some studies have reported the occurrence of such effects, particularly in individuals with comorbid conditions.

A study on comorbid MDD and coronary heart disease (CHD) treatment with Sertraline revealed that long-term Sertraline treatment was associated with an increased likelihood of coronary artery atherosclerosis (CAA),  which can be potentially fatal, especially in geriatric patients (2).

Furthermore, a research study concerning the mortality rate and myocardial effects of antidepressants revealed that there is a 33% chance of causing death and a 14% chance of inducing potentially fatal conditions like heart attacks and strokes (3).

However, untreated depression and anxiety can have a detrimental effect on an individual’s quality of life and health. Treatment with antidepressants, such as Sertraline, provides relief, enhancing an individual’s mental and emotional well-being and potentially increasing their lifespan (2).

A study examining the impact of Sertraline on human cancer cells indicated the potential cytotoxic effects of Sertraline in various types of cancer, as well as the potential to extend life expectancy (4).

However, research on this topic continues to evolve and new findings frequently emerge.

Potential life-threatening side effects of Sertraline

While this medication is highly beneficial, it is also associated with several side effects some of which are potentially life-threatening. These side effects include:

Serotonin Syndrome

Serotonin syndrome, although rare, is a possibility if a high amount of Sertraline is ingested or if the antidepressant is taken concomitantly with another medication, like a monoaminoxidase inhibitor, or substance abuse.

Sertraline exerts its effects by increasing serotonin levels in the brain (1). Serotonin syndrome is a rare, life-threatening condition caused by toxic levels of serotonin in the body. It is characterized by the following signs and symptoms: (5,6)

  • Confusion
  • Agitation
  • High blood pressure
  • Tremors and muscle rigidity
  • High fever
  • Seizures

It is considered a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.

Allergic reactions

While rare, Sertraline-induced allergic reactions can often be severe and life-threatening (8). These allergic reactions may present as :

  • Skin rash
  • Swelling
  • Itching, especially on the face, lips, and throat
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing

If you experience any signs of an allergic reaction after taking Sertraline, you should seek immediate emergency medical assistance.

Suicidal Thoughts and Ideation

Although Sertraline is widely prescribed in the management of depression and anxiety it can sometimes increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours (9). It is important to closely monitor individuals on this medication, especially in the early stages of treatment.

How to manage Sertraline-induced serious side effects?

If you experience the aforementioned side effects, it is imperative to seek immediate emergency medical assistance, as these side effects can be life-threatening, and time is crucial for their management. After addressing the immediate emergency, you should inform your healthcare provider of any side effects experienced while on this medication.

If it becomes evident that Sertraline is responsible for these side effects, promptly consult your healthcare provider about discontinuing your medication.

For individuals taking Sertraline, maintaining a close relationship with their healthcare provider is crucial. Regular monitoring and open communication with your doctor will ensure the safety and effectiveness of your medication.

In the case of experiencing suicidal ideations, your doctor may recommend supplementing your treatment with behavioural therapy to reduce the likelihood of suicidal thoughts.

Additionally, it is important to self-monitor your response to the medication and promptly report any unexpected side effects or unusual experiences while taking it.

Your doctor may also explore the possibility of switching you to a different antidepressant, such as Selegiline, which is less likely to impact life expectancy.

Take home

In summary, when using Sertraline or similar medications to manage mental health disorders, finding a balance between effectively managing mental health conditions and addressing any potential concerns about medication use is important.

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Duarte D, Vale N. Antidepressant Drug Sertraline against Human Cancer Cells. Biomolecules [Internet]. 2022 Oct 19 [cited 2023 Sep 27];12(10):1513. Available from:



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