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
Filter group. All currently selected
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4.74Zoloft
Reviews for Zoloft (Sertraline)
59%
of people (All ages) say Zoloft (Sertraline) is worth it
41%
say it works well
15%
say it's a big hassle
1472 reviews
Have you used Zoloft (Sertraline)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Elavil (Amitriptyline)
53%
-6% worse vs. Zoloft (Sertraline)
36%
-5% worse vs. Zoloft (Sertraline)
25%
-10% worse vs. Zoloft (Sertraline)
134 reviews
Have you used Elavil (Amitriptyline)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
ZoloftElavil
  • Nausea 10%
  • Diarrhea/loose stools 6%
  • Sleep difficulty 2%
  • Mouth dry 7%
  • Fatigue 10%
  • Dizziness 2%
  • Feeling unwell 2%
  • Indigestion 4%
  • Loss of appetite 5%
  • Lower sex drive 2%
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
Prescription only
Prescription only
Available as
ZoloftElavil
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Pill
Used for
ZoloftElavil
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

      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.

      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.

      Interactions
      ZoloftElavil
      • It interacts with St. John's Wort and Tryptophan.
      No interactions related info.
      Pain
      ZoloftElavil
      No pain related info.
      • Low doses work well to treat certain kinds of chronic pain. It can take 2 weeks to feel the full effects of the medication.
      Sex
      ZoloftElavil
      • Can cause sexual side effects like low libido and an inability to orgasm or ejaculate.
      No sex related info.
      Sleep
      ZoloftElavil
      • Causes less drowsiness than other antidepressants.
      • Zoloft (Sertraline) may increase the risk of low sodium levels in the blood (hyponatremia). Watch out for symptoms including headache, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, confusion, weakness, and unsteadiness, which may lead to falls. Talk to a doctor right away before developing more serious symptoms, such as hallucination, fainting, coma, and death.
      • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
      Weight
      ZoloftElavil
      No weight related info.
      • It's more likely to cause sleepiness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
      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
      Have you used Zoloft (Sertraline)?
      Worth itNot sureNot worth it
      More about ElavilSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
      Have you used Elavil (Amitriptyline)?
      Worth itNot sureNot worth it