Compare Zoloft vs. Elavil

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

Zoloft
(Sertraline)

Elavil
(Amitriptyline)

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.Improves mood and relieves certain kinds of pain. Elavil (Amitriptyline) is an older antidepressant that's sometimes used to treat pain and sleep problems, but it can have more side effects than similar medications.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
4.690531177829099Zoloft
Reviews for Zoloft (Sertraline)
59%
of people say Zoloft (Sertraline) is worth it
40%
say it works well
15%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Elavil (Amitriptyline)
52%
7% vs. Zoloft (Sertraline)
34%
6% vs. Zoloft (Sertraline)
23%
8% vs. Zoloft (Sertraline)
Side effects
ZoloftElavil
  • 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 »

The Elavil FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Elavil side effects »
How it works
ZoloftElavil
Zoloft (Sertraline) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. It increases the activity of serotonin in the brain, which regulates mood.Elavil (Amitriptyline) is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). Researchers don't know exactly how it works. It may change serotonin and norepinephrine activity in the brain, which regulates mood and pain perception. It also has sedative effects.
Type of medication
ZoloftElavil
Antidepressant
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
Prescription only
Antidepressant
Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
Prescription only
Available as
ZoloftElavil
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Pill
Used for (click to learn more)
ZoloftElavil
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.

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

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 Elavil (Amitriptyline)
Risk factors for serious side effects
ZoloftElavil
  • 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 »
      • Age 24 years or younger
      • History of bipolar disorder
      • At risk for bipolar disorder
      • History of cardiovascular disease
      • Age 65 years or older
      • Age 65 years or older
      Detailed Elavil (Amitriptyline) risks & warnings »
      Pregnancy category
      ZoloftElavil
      CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

      Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

      See the FDA package insert
      CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

      Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

      See the FDA package insert
      Alcohol
      No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
      Food
      No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
      Kidneys and liver
      No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
      Sex
      • Can cause sexual side effects like low libido and an inability to orgasm or ejaculate.
      No specific sex-related info.
      Sleep
      • Causes less drowsiness than other antidepressants.
      • Low doses of Elavil (Amitriptyline) start working in 45 minutes to help you sleep better.
      • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
      Weight
      No specific weight-related info.
      • It's more likely to cause sleepiness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
      • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
      Upsides and benefits
      ZoloftElavil
      • 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.
      • Low doses work well to treat certain kinds of chronic pain. It can take 2 weeks to feel the full effects of the medication.
      • Low doses of Elavil (Amitriptyline) start working in 45 minutes to help you sleep better.
      • Six out of every ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
      Downsides and risks
      ZoloftElavil
      • 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.
      • When used for depression, Elavil (Amitriptyline) causes more side effects and has a higher risk of overdose than other antidepressants. It's usually used when other medications haven't worked.
      • It's more likely to cause sleepiness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
      • People age 65 and older have a higher risk for this medication's side effects.
      • Like most antidepressants, it can cause a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people age 24 and younger.
      • 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
      ZoloftElavil
      • 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.
      • Take at bedtime to avoid some of its side effects.
      • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
      • 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 ZoloftSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
      More about ElavilSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert