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What is Zoloft?

Zoloft is popular medication used to treat depression, panic disorder, anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Zoloft belongs to a group of medications referred to as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). As with most medications, Zoloft has an extensive list of side effects, which has prompted lawsuits against Pfizer, the makers of Zoloft.

Birth Defects

Studies have found that women who take Zoloft before or during their pregnancy, puts their baby at an increased risk of being born with a number of serious and/or potentially fatal birth defects. Parents are finding that the drug they were told was safe is now the reason why their child/children are facing life-long complications.

Published in the British Medical Journal was a study that found SSRI antidepressants such as Zoloft carried twice the risk of babies being born with septal heart defects; a hole in the tissue that separate the chambers of the heart.


Women who have taken Zoloft early in their pregnancy also have an increased risk of delivering a child with the following birth defects:

  • Hypoplastic left heart syndrome
  • Ventricular septal defects
  • Coarctation of the aorta
  • Transposition of the great arteries (TGA)
  • Tetralogy of fallout (TOF)

The use of Zoloft during pregnancy does not only cause cardiac conditions. Other serious birth defects due to Zoloft use during pregnancy are:

  • Spina bifida
  • Club foot
  • Craniosynostosis (skull defect)
  • Omaphalocele ( intestines and/or abdominal organs protrude through the navel)

Stopping Zoloft

As with most SSRIs, Zoloft is not a drug that can be stopped cold turkey. The dosage needs to be decreased and the patient weaned off the drug slowly. Some of the symptoms of interrupting or stopping the drug abruptly are:

  • Irritability
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Nervousness
  • Headache
  • Anger
  • Nightmares
  • Crying
  • Emotional lability

In order to come off safely with less withdraw effects of Zoloft, your physician will put you on a dose reduction schedule, decreasing the amount you are taking each week until you are successfully off the drug.

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