Compare Buspar vs. Zoloft

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

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Helps you relax. Buspar (Buspirone) is effective for treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and less effective for short-term use.Improves mood and helps you relax. Zoloft (Sertraline) is good for treating depression and anxiety. It's more likely to cause insomnia and diarrhea than other antidepressants.
How it works
Buspar (Buspirone) is an anti-anxiety medication. It's used to stabilize chemicals in the brain that control mood and nervousness.Zoloft (Sertraline) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. It increases the activity of serotonin in the brain, which regulates mood.
Type of medication
Prescription only
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
Prescription only
Available as
  • Pill
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
Find lowest prices
Powered by GoodRxSave on your next prescription. Be sure you’re getting the lowest price for your medication, even if you have insurance.
How well it works for depression
The free Iodine Start program helps people track how well they are improving, and find the right antidepressant faster.
The free Iodine Start program (personal reports and coaching) is currently only for antidepressants. For now, you can read our pharmacist info about this medication.Learn more about Buspar (Buspirone)

After 4 weeks using Start and Zoloft (Sertraline), here’s how much better people feel.

Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
Reviews for Buspar (Buspirone)
of people say Buspar (Buspirone) is worth it
say it works well
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Zoloft (Sertraline)
+8% vs. Buspar (Buspirone)
7% vs. Buspar (Buspirone)
+13% vs. Buspar (Buspirone)
Side effects
  • Dizziness 9%
  • Nervousness 4%
  • Headache 3%
  • Nausea 3%
  • Drowsiness 1%
More Buspar side effects »
  • Nausea 19%
  • Ejaculation failure 18%
  • Sleep difficulty 16%
  • Diarrhea/loose stools 14%
  • Fatigue 9%
  • Loss of appetite 9%
  • Lower sex drive 9%
  • Sweating increased 9%
  • Dizziness 8%
  • Indigestion 8%
More Zoloft side effects »
Risk factors for serious side effects
  • Taking with MAOIs
  • Taking with Zyvox or methylene blue
  • Taking with or converting from benzodiazepine medicines
  • Duration of treatment
Detailed Buspar (Buspirone) risks & warnings »
  • Under 24 years old
  • Interactions with other medications
      • Stopping Zoloft (Sertraline) suddenly
      • Taking with blood-thinning drugs
      • Elderly
      • Taking with diuretic medications
      Detailed Zoloft (Sertraline) risks & warnings »
      Pregnancy category
      • Avoid alcohol when taking Buspar (Buspirone).
      No specific alcohol-related info.
      • Be consistent in taking Buspar (Buspirone) with or without food.
      No specific food-related info.
      Kidneys and liver
      No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
      No specific sex-related info.
      • Can cause sexual side effects like low libido and an inability to orgasm or ejaculate.
      • Stopping Buspar (Buspirone) suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, flu-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, and muscle pain or burning. Withdrawal symptoms can last a few weeks or longer. Work with your doctor to gradually reduce your dose.
      No specific sleep-related info.
      No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
      Upsides and benefits
      • Buspar (Buspirone) works very well to control the symptoms of generalized anxiety syndrome (GAD).
      • Buspar (Buspirone) doesn't cause physical dependence or withdrawal symptoms.
      • Buspar (Buspirone) is only available as a generic, so the price can be pretty cheap.
      • Effective at lowering symptoms and relapse rates of depression and anxiety disorders.
      • Causes less drowsiness than other antidepressants.
      • Six out of ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
      Downsides and risks
      • Buspar (Buspirone) can take as long as four weeks to become fully effective.
      • Not as effective for short-term anxiety conditions or panic disorders.
      • Most people find that it loses effectiveness over long periods of time.
      • Can cause drowsiness or dizziness when you start taking Buspar (Buspirone). Be extremely careful of activities that require mental alertness, such as driving.
      • Can cause sexual side effects like low libido and an inability to orgasm or ejaculate.
      • More likely to cause diarrhea than other antidepressants.
      • Like most antidepressants, it can cause a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people younger than 24.
      • The first antidepressant you try doesn't always work or it can cause side effects you really don't like. You might need to try a few different medications until you find one that works for you.
      Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
      • Take doses at about the same time each day.
      • It can take several weeks to get the full effect.
      • Don't eat or drink grapefruit juice when using Buspar (Buspirone).
      • Don't use Buspar (Buspirone) within two weeks of using an MAO inhibitor (like Eldepryl, Parnate, or Marplan).
      • Be consistent in taking Buspar (Buspirone) with or without food.
      • Avoid alcohol when taking Buspar (Buspirone).
      • Takes about 8 to 12 weeks to see the medication's full effects on your mood.
      • It interacts with St. John's Wort and Tryptophan.
      • Stop taking it slowly to avoid getting withdrawal symptoms.
      • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
      Learn more
      More about BusparSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
      More about ZoloftSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert