Struggling with anxiety can be overwhelming, but medications like Zoloft and Prozac offer hope. These two medications, which are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are commonly prescribed to treat conditions such as depression, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). SSRIs boost serotonin levels in the brain, which helps enhance mood and overall well-being.

While they share similarities, there are key differences. Prozac is better for general anxiety disorder, while Zoloft is more effective for PTSD and social anxiety. Both prevent depressive episodes equally well.

Key Findings

  • SSRIs like Zoloft and Prozac are used for anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
  • Zoloft may work better for social anxiety, while both are effective for depression.
  • Taking Zoloft and Prozac together is not safe due to the risk of serotonin syndrome.
  • The duration for taking these antidepressants varies; often, treatment is long-term.
  • Both medications are considered safe during pregnancy but have minimal risks.
  • Drinking alcohol while on these medications can increase side effects.
  • Both medications can cause weight gain, but less so than other SSRIs.

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft (Sertraline)Zoloft (sertraline) is a medication prescribed by doctors to help with various mental health issues.

It’s commonly used to treat the following disorders:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD),
  • Panic disorder,
  • Social anxiety disorder,
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD),
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Zoloft is safe and effective for children aged 6 to 17 with OCD, but its safety and effectiveness haven’t been confirmed for children under 6 or those with other behavioral health conditions.

Additionally, Zoloft may be prescribed “off-label” for conditions like

  • Binge-eating disorder
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Premature ejaculation.

Off-label use means prescribing a medication for a purpose not approved by regulators, based on clinical judgment and evidence. If Zoloft isn’t working for you, talk to your healthcare provider.

What is Prozac?

Prozac (Fluoxetine)Prozac (fluoxetine) is a prescription medication primarily used to treat depression. Prozac is also prescribed for the following conditions:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Panic disorder
  • Depressive episodes associated with Bipolar I Disorder when taken with olanzapine (Zyprexa),
  • Treatment-resistant depression (depression that hasn’t improved with at least two other treatments) when taken with olanzapine (Zyprexa).

While Prozac isn’t approved for use in children for certain conditions, it may be used off-label to treat other anxiety disorders.

Key Differences Between Zoloft and Prozac

woman taking pills with glass of water

Zoloft, also called sertraline, and Prozac, also known as fluoxetine, are both antidepressants. Zoloft is mainly used for depression, PTSD, and PMDD, while Prozac is also approved for bulimia nervosa.

Zoloft comes in tablets or liquid form, while Prozac is usually taken as a daily capsule or a weekly delayed-release capsule.

These differences in approved uses and forms of medication are important factors to consider when choosing between Zoloft and Prozac for treating depression or related conditions.



Drug classSelective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
Available in generic?YesYes
FDA approvedYesYes
Generic NameSertralineFluoxetine
Brand NameZoloftProzac
Medication formOral tablet

Oral solution

Oral capsule

Delayed release

What forms are available?Oral solution: 20 mg/ml


Tablet (only in generic version)

Oral solution (generic)

Oral capsules

Dosages and strengthsFrom 50 mg-200mgFrom 20-80 mg
Who uses this medication?Children aged 6 and older (OCD) and adultsChildren aged 7 and older with depression and adults

How do Zoloft vs. Prozac Work?

Zoloft and Prozac both work similarly in the brain. They belong to a group of medications called SSRIs, which stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

What they do is they stop the brain from taking back in a chemical called serotonin. By doing this, they help increase the serotonin levels in the brain, which improves mood and feelings of well-being.

A study compared two antidepressants, sertraline and fluoxetine, in treating major depressive disorder. They tested different doses over 10 weeks in 44 outpatients. They measured the response using scales for depression and overall improvement.

Results showed that those on 100 mg of sertraline and 20 mg of fluoxetine had better responses after 4 weeks than those on 50 mg of sertraline. Doubling the dose for non-responders at 6 weeks led to remission for many after 4 more weeks. Overall, higher doses of sertraline and fluoxetine showed better early responses in treating major depression.

So, even though they’re different brands, they have the same way of helping people feel better.

Zoloft vs. Prozac Dosages

Both Zoloft and Prozac treat similar conditions, but their dosages and forms can differ. The form of medication can matter, like choosing between pills or liquid for those who struggle with swallowing.

It takes about four to six weeks for these medications to work fully. If symptoms don’t improve after six weeks, the dosage or medication may need adjustment.

Dosages depend on the condition, age, and individual factors, so it’s best to talk to a healthcare provider for the right plan.

Zoloft Dosage Forms and Strengths

Zoloft is available in different forms and strengths for various conditions.

  • Oral tablets: 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg
  • Oral solution: 20 mg/mL

For treating major depressive disorder, OCD, panic disorder, PTSD, and social anxiety disorder, Zoloft is usually started at a dose of 25 to 50 mg once daily.

The typical dosage ranges from 50 to 200 mg once daily. Healthcare providers may adjust the dose gradually, increasing it by 25 to 50 mg each week until the desired response is achieved.

For premenstrual dysphoric disorder, Zoloft is typically taken at a dosage of 50 to 100 or 150 mg once daily.

However, the dose may vary based on the menstrual cycle phase. It’s important to follow the healthcare provider’s instructions carefully regarding dosage and timing for the best treatment outcomes.

Prozac Dosages Form and Strengths

Prozac is available in different forms and strengths for various conditions.

  • Oral capsules: 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, and 90 mg

For treating major depressive disorder, OCD, and panic disorder, Prozac is usually initiated at a dose of 10 to 20 mg once daily in the morning.

For bulimia nervosa, the typical starting dose is 60 mg in the morning. A study on bulimia nervosa examined the effectiveness of fluoxetine in treating bulimia nervosa, a condition where individuals consume large amounts of food quickly and then attempt to purge it.

The findings revealed that those on fluoxetine experienced fewer instances of vomiting and binge eating compared to the placebo group. Additional assessments indicated that fluoxetine helped improve symptoms. Furthermore, the study concluded that fluoxetine was well-tolerated, with no significant side effects reported.

Also, Prozac may cause difficulty sleeping if taken at night, so healthcare providers often recommend morning dosing.

If there’s no improvement with the starting dose after a few weeks, the dosage may be increased.

Prozac can also be used to manage depressive episodes associated with bipolar I disorder and treatment-resistant depression when combined with the antipsychotic olanzapine.

The initial adult dosage for these conditions is 20 mg of Prozac with 5 mg of olanzapine once daily in the evening.

Important Considerations for Dosages of Other Populations

Dosage adjustments may be needed for elderly individuals or those with liver problems, with lower doses typically recommended. However, Zoloft is not advisable for people with moderate or severe liver issues.

In general, dosage adjustments are not usually required for individuals with kidney impairment.

Who can take Prozac vs Zoloft?

Both Zoloft and Prozac are generally safe for adults, but there are some considerations for younger people, like potential risks of suicidal thoughts. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should talk to their doctor before taking these medications.

Both drugs can be prescribed to adults and some children, but the FDA advises caution, especially in pediatric patients and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, due to possible adverse reactions and severe side effects.

The table below will show you the overview of conditions and if it’s FDA-approved or off-label.

Generalized anxiety disorderOff-labelOff-label
Bulimia nervosaFDA-approvedOff-label
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)FDA-approvedFDA-approved
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)FDA-approvedOff-label
Panic disorderFDA-approvedFDA-approved
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)Off-labelFDA-approved

Who Should Not Take Zoloft?

It’s important not to take Zoloft if you:

  • Take a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), including the antibiotic linezolid, or have taken one within the last 2 weeks, unless directed by your healthcare provider.
  • Take any other medicines containing sertraline, such as sertraline HCl.
  • Take the antipsychotic medicine pimozide (Orap®), as it can cause serious heart problems.
  • Are allergic to sertraline or any ingredients in Zoloft.
  • Take Antabuse® (disulfiram) if you are using the liquid form of Zoloft due to its alcohol content.

Who Should Not Take Prozac?

Do not take Prozac if you:

  • Are allergic to fluoxetine hydrochloride or any ingredients in Prozac.
  • Take a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI) or have taken one within the last 5 weeks, unless directed by your physician.
  • Have stopped taking an MAOI in the last 2 weeks unless directed by your physician.

When to Discontinue the Treatment?

When deciding to stop treatment with Zoloft or Prozac, it’s essential to gradually reduce the dosage over time. Suddenly stopping either Prozac or Zoloft can lead to withdrawal symptoms and other negative effects, like headaches, dizziness, agitation, and insomnia.

Gradual tapering of the medication helps minimize these risks and ensures a smoother transition.

Prozac and Zoloft Side Effects

Common Side Effects of Zoloft vs. Prozac

When starting Zoloft or Prozac, you may experience mild side effects that usually improve within a few weeks. Common side effects of both medications include nausea, diarrhea, indigestion, and tremors. While both drugs can cause similar side effects, their severity may vary.

Common side effects of Zoloft:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Indigestion
  • Tremors

Common side effects of Prozac:

  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Dry mouth
  • Indigestion

Drug Interactions of Zoloft vs. Prozac

Understanding how Zoloft and Prozac interact with other drugs is crucial for safe treatment.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs): Mixing Zoloft or Prozac with MAOIs can lead to a serious condition called serotonin syndrome.
  • Pimozide: Combining Zoloft or Prozac with pimozide can increase the risk of heart rhythm problems.
  • Other Serotonergic Drugs: Taking them with other serotonergic drugs needs close monitoring for serotonin syndrome.
  • Drugs that Interfere with Hemostasis: Using them with blood thinners like aspirin can increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Drugs Metabolized by CYP2D6: Zoloft can affect how some drugs are broken down in the body, which may change their effects.
  • Phenytoin: Taking Zoloft with phenytoin needs careful monitoring, as it can change their levels in the body.
  • Drugs that Prolong the QTc Interval: Mixing them with drugs that affect heart rhythm can increase the risk of heart problems.

Warnings and Precautions of Zoloft vs. Prozac

When comparing Prozac and Zoloft, it’s important to be cautious due to potential risks. Both medications can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts, especially in young adults and children.

However, a study conducted by the FDA found no direct association between fluoxetine and suicidal thoughts or behavior in children and adolescents.

It’s essential to monitor those whose symptoms don’t improve closely. Additionally, both drugs may lower the seizure threshold and cause abnormal heart rhythms in people with heart issues.

Abruptly stopping them can lead to withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and insomnia, so it’s crucial to taper off gradually under medical supervision. Furthermore, pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should consult a healthcare professional before using these medications.

Overdosage to Zoloft and Prozac

Both Zoloft and Prozac overdoses can cause severe complications. Zoloft overdose may lead to seizures, altered mental status (including coma), and cardiovascular issues like prolonged QRS and QTc intervals.

Serotonin syndrome can also occur, especially with multiple drug overdoses involving other pro-serotonergic drugs.

Similarly, overdosing on fluoxetine may result in seizures, altered mental status, and cardiovascular problems such as prolonged QRS and QTc intervals, wide complex tachyarrhythmias, and cardiac arrest.

For early overdose cases, using activated charcoal for gastrointestinal decontamination is recommended.

Costs of Zoloft vs. Prozac

Insurance plans often cover Zoloft and is available in generic form, making it generally affordable. However, the average retail price for a 30-day supply of brand-name Zoloft is approximately $400.

Prozac, also available in generic form, is typically covered by most insurance plans. Although insurance plans generally cover Prozac, they typically prefer the generic version. Without insurance, purchasing a 30-day supply of brand-name Prozac can cost around $600 on average.

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MedicationStrengthUS PricingPG PricingPG Generic Pricing
Prozac10 mg$15/capsule$2.87/capsule$0.49/capsule
20 mg$15.69/capsule$3.49/capsule$0.59/capsule
40 mg$26.99/capsuleN/AN/A

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Frequently Asked Questions on Provac and Zoloft

Are Prozac and Zoloft the same?

Prozac and Zoloft are both antidepressants, but they are not exactly the same. They belong to a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which means they work in similar ways to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

However, there are differences in their chemical composition, potential side effects, and how they interact with individual bodies. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider to determine which medication is most suitable for your specific needs.

Can you switch between Prozac and Zoloft?

Yes, you can switch between Prozac and Zoloft, but it depends on various factors like your medical history, the reason for the switch, and your body’s response to each medication. It’s essential to talk to your doctor before making any changes to your medication regimen.

They can guide you on the safest way to transition between medications and ensure it’s done in a way that’s best for your health. Always follow your healthcare provider’s advice when switching medications.

What is better: Zoloft or Prozac?

Both Zoloft and Prozac work similarly to ease depression symptoms. Studies show they can help improve mood and quality of life compared to not taking medication.

One study found that both drugs reduced depression and anxiety symptoms, with fewer side effects reported by those taking Zoloft.

However, another study found no significant difference in effectiveness between the two. Since people respond differently to medications, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider to find the right one for you.

Which is better for anxiety, Prozac or Zoloft?

When you’re feeling anxious, doctors often suggest Prozac or Zoloft to help. Studies show both can work well for moderate to severe social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and panic disorder. However, for intense fear or unease in public situations, Zoloft might be more helpful. Studies have shown that antidepressants like sertraline and fluoxetine, known as SSRIs, can also help treat SAD effectively.

Which has worse side effects: Zoloft or Prozac?

Some research suggests that Prozac could lead to more side effects compared to Zoloft. This is because Prozac stays in the body longer, so its effects last longer too. However not everyone taking Prozac will have more side effects than those taking Zoloft. Everyone’s response to medication is different. It’s essential to talk to a doctor before starting either medication to understand what might work best for you.

Can Zoloft and Prozac be taken together?

No, it’s not safe to take Prozac and Zoloft together because they’re both SSRIs. Mixing medications from the same class can be risky and might not work as well. There’s a danger of getting too much serotonin in your body, which can lead to a serious condition called serotonin syndrome. That’s why it’s important to talk to a doctor before taking any medications together.

How long should I take Zoloft and Prozac?

There’s no set duration for taking antidepressants like Zoloft or Prozac. Typically, healthcare providers advise staying on them for about six to eight weeks to fully benefit from the medication.

Usually, antidepressant treatment is long-term, but if you feel it’s time to stop or have other reasons, talk to your healthcare provider for guidance on discontinuing safely.

Is it safe to take Zoloft vs. Prozac during pregnancy?

Typically, SSRIs like Zoloft and Prozac are considered safe options during pregnancy. These medications may carry risks such as high blood pressure for the pregnant person and premature birth. However, these risks are generally minimal. It’s essential to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.

Can I drink alcohol while taking Zoloft vs. Prozac?

It’s not advisable to consume alcohol while on Zoloft or Prozac. Combining alcohol with these medications can heighten the risk of certain side effects like dizziness and drowsiness. It’s best to avoid alcohol altogether while taking these medications.

Is Zoloft or Prozac better for depression?

Both Zoloft and Prozac are effective for depression, but which one is better depends on the person. It’s essential to work with a doctor to find the right medication for you.

Is Zoloft or Prozac better for PTSD?

Prozac is approved by the FDA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, Zoloft is prescribed off-label for PTSD treatment, meaning it’s used for this condition even though it hasn’t been officially approved by the FDA for that purpose.

Does Zoloft or Prozac cause more weight gain?

Both Zoloft and Prozac can cause weight gain, but according to research, they tend to result in lower weight gain compared to other SSRIs. A study compared the effects of long-term treatment with fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and paroxetine on weight changes in patients with major depressive disorder.

The results showed that patients treated with paroxetine experienced a significant weight increase, while those treated with fluoxetine had a modest, nonsignificant weight decrease, and those treated with sertraline had a modest, nonsignificant weight increase.

Plus, the number of patients who experienced a weight increase of more than 7% from baseline was significantly higher in those treated with paroxetine compared to fluoxetine or sertraline. Therefore, while both Zoloft and Prozac can lead to weight gain, they appear to have a lower risk of significant weight gain compared to other SSRIs.


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