Does Zoloft cause muscle tension?

In this review, we have answered the question, “Does Zoloft cause muscle tension?”. We have highlighted some points, like: “Why does Zoloft cause muscle tension?” and “What to do if Zoloft causes muscle tension?”

Does Zoloft cause muscle tension?

Yes, Zoloft does cause muscle tension in some people, but it is not considered a common side effect (1). If you suffer from Zoloft-induced muscle tension, talk to your healthcare provider. 

However, this side effect usually begins to subside once your body adjusts to the medication and it starts to kick in, which usually happens within 2-3 weeks of your treatment. Some people may take a bit longer, but they eventually recover. 

Why does Zoloft cause muscle tension?

The exact mechanism through which Zoloft affects your muscles is not properly known, but some studies demonstrate that antidepressants like Zoloft can modify electrical muscle activity, skeletal muscle structure, and energy metabolism (2). 

However, these symptoms vary from person to person and depend on pre-existing metabolic conditions (2). 

What does research suggest?

​​The researchers suggest that Zoloft poses a risk of causing muscle strain without a defined mechanism. In four studies, patients showed cases of dystonia, bruxism, and akathisia after Zoloft use (3-6).  

In one of the cases, the patient had dystonia in the facial region, mouth, and jaw with repetitive contractions (3). In another study, the patient had akathisia and dystonia, and the symptoms were confused with a panic attack (6).

What to do if Zoloft causes muscle tension?

If your muscles ache because of Zoloft, it is best to talk to your doctor about the next step instead of taking things into your own hands. Abrupt Zoloft discontinuation can lead to disturbing symptoms, often known as Zoloft withdrawal symptoms (7). 

If your side effect persists, your doctor will try to adjust your dose, and it works in most cases. However, if you continue to experience muscle tension or pain, your doctor may switch you to another antidepressant. 

Some other tips may help ease some of your muscle tension (8-9). These include:

  • Apply a warm compress to the affected part of the muscle. This will increase the blood flow towards the tensed muscle and help relax it.
  • Try stretching. It helps release the added stress in your stomach, and your muscles breathe.
  • Ensure you are not using other medication along with Zoloft, which may contribute to muscle tension.

It is also important to make sure that you do not have any vital mineral deficiency, like magnesium, calcium, potassium, etc that may make your muscles more susceptible to drug-induced pain.

If you are, supplements like magnesium supplements can be taken with Zoloft. However, make sure you reach out to your doctor before you start taking anything with Zoloft.

Your doctor may also recommend medications to relax your muscles. However, some prescription muscle relaxants, like Cyclobenzaprine, may interact with Zoloft.

However, it is important to note that Zoloft can affect muscles severely in some cases.

Can physical activity reduce muscle tension caused by Zoloft?

Yes, physical exercise can reduce muscle tension caused by Zoloft.

Moderate physical exercise has been shown to have numerous advantages in the treatment of depression, including a decrease in the adverse effects of antidepressants (10).

Physical exercise can help inflammatory processes and improve cognitive and psychomotor (10).


The article above brings some points to help with the question, “Does Zoloft cause muscle tension?”. We raised some aspects, like What to do if Zoloft causes muscle tension? and we brought some tips on how to relieve muscle tension in a non-medicated way.

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​​Visco DB, Manhães-de-Castro R, Chaves WF, Lacerda DC, Pereira S da C, Ferraz-Pereira KN, et al. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors affect structure, function and metabolism of skeletal muscle: A systematic review. Pharmacol Res [Internet]. Elsevier; 2018;136(September):194–204. Available from:


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