Zoloft is typically prescribed as an antidepressant medication to relieve symptoms of stress, calming and relaxing the patient and reducing overall feelings of anxiety. Caffeine, on the other hand, is a widely used, mildly addictive stimulant whose side-effects include an increase in excitability and anxious feelings. Doctors recommend the two not to be taken in conjunction with one another.
How Zoloft Works
Zoloft -- the trademarked name for sertraline -- inhibits neuro-receptors in the brain that create the chemical reaction responsible for mood. The "bad mood" chemical is diluted, thus allowing more of the "good mood" chemical to take over. This is why many Zoloft users report neutral feelings, not feeling depressed or overly elated. Doctors generally prescribe for those diagnosed with mild depressive symptoms that may or may not return upon cessation of the drug.
How Caffeine Works
Adenosine is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain that's responsible for feelings of mood, excitability and mental focus. On a molecular level, caffeine closely resembles adenosine. When consumed, the brain is "tricked" into taking in caffeine as adenosine, thus doubling the effect of natural adenosine. This creates caffeine's known increases in central nervous system activity. Some may assume that since caffeine and Zoloft are meant to address two separate problems, that together the drugs would counteract one another. Studies show the opposite to be true.
When ingested, Zoloft reacts with caffeine levels currently in a patient's blood and creates a marked increase in the total serum caffeine content in their body, says Wes Burgess in his book "The Depression Answer Book." Over time, if the patient ingests caffeine on a regular basis, she increases her chances of experiencing caffeine intoxication, a potentially serious condition that increases caffeine's regular side-effects considerably. Irregular heartbeat, chronic insomnia, loss of appetite, heart palpitations, fatigue and facial discoloration are among some of the reported side-effects of caffeine intoxication.
Consult a Doctor
Doctors advise severely limiting or completely eliminating caffeine if you have been prescribed Zoloft. Caffeine is included in many foods, such as coffee, black teas, chocolate and energizing sports drinks, so consume these foods in moderation or not at all. Even if you have a high tolerance to caffeine, you should limit or abstain from caffeine consumption. Confer with your doctor about your caffeine consumption if you're taking Zoloft, considering taking Zoloft or are experiencing mild depressive symptoms.
- "The Depression Answer Book: Professional Answers to More Than 75 Questions"; Wes Burgess; 2009
- John Hopkins Medical Center: Effects of Caffeine and Caffeine Intoxication