Prescriptions

Is Prozac or Zoloft Better?

Alyssa Corso15 Sep 2021

Zoloft and Prozac belong to a family of medications called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and work by increasing serotonin in the brain. Differences between the two medications include the age groups they are approved for and their uses. The cost for sertraline, the generic version of Zoloft, is about $40. And Fluoxetine, the generic version of Prozac, costs about $31.

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How Zoloft and Prozac Work

According to Dr. Nouhavandi, Co-CEO, and Co-Founder of HoneyBee Health

“Zoloft and Prozac belong to a family of medications called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (also known as SSRIs). They work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter essential for mood and emotion regulation”.

Serotonin is a key hormone in your body connected to your mood, happiness, and other functions such as sleeping, eating, and digestion. SSRIs are used to block serotonin from being reabsorbed into neurons, making more serotonin available in your brain. When the amount of serotonin in the brain is increased, it helps to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Effectiveness

When it comes to effectiveness, Zoloft and Prozac are similarly effective for treating symptoms of depression. Based on a clinical trial, both Zoloft and Prozac improved depression based on different scores for depression and anxiety along with sleep. The study, however, showed different side effect frequencies, as mentioned below. 

“Both Zoloft and Prozac have been shown to have similar levels of effectiveness when it comes to treating anxiety and depression. It really comes down to individual preference and your doctor’s discretion when deciding between the two. Although both are SSRIs, sometimes people respond better to one over the other. You should work with your doctor to find the best fit for you,” says Dr. Nouhavandi. 

Differences Between Zoloft vs. Prozac 

While Zoloft and Prozac are both approved to treat depression, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), there are some differences between the two medications regarding other conditions and age restrictions. There are also some differences in side effect frequency. The two mediations have different active ingredients as well.

Differences in Treatment & Age Zoloft vs. Prozac 

DiagnosisZoloftProzac
Bulimia NervosaNot approvedApproved 
DepressionApproved for adults onlyApproved for ages 8 and up
OCDApproved for children 6 years or olderApproved in treating children 7 years or older
PTSDApprovedNot approved
Premenstrual Dysphoric DisorderApprovedNot approved 
Social Anxiety DisorderApproved Not approved

The chart above was created with information provided by Dr. Nouhavandi.  

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Side Effects

Common side effects of both medications can include feeling shaky or sick, blurred vision, dry mouth, dizziness, loss of appetite or weight loss, diarrhea or constipation, headache, drowsiness, stomach upset, and changes in sexual desire.

However, some differences lie in the frequency in which each side effect occurs. For example, Zoloft is more likely to cause stomach issues, such as nausea or diarrhea.

Sife Effect Frequency Zoloft vs. Prozac

Side Effect

Zoloft Frequency

Prozac Frequency

Nausea26%22%
Diarrhea20%11%
Indigestion8%8%
Dry Mouth14%9%
Constipation6%5%
Vomiting4%3%
Fatigue12%N/A
Dizziness12%9%
Somnolence11%12%
Tremor9%9%
Insomnia20%19%
Decreased libido6%4%
Agitation8%2%
Palpitations4%1%

Generic Versions

Zoloft and Prozac are both brand-name prescriptions and have different generic versions. The generic version of Zoloft is sertraline hydrochloride, and the generic version of Prozac is fluoxetine. Due to the different active ingredients, the two drugs are used for different conditions. For example, Prozac is used as an SSRI but can also be prescribed as the brand name to treat premature ejaculation

The Cost of Zoloft vs. Prozac

The out-of-pocket cost for sertraline is about $40 for thirty 100 mg tablets, and thirty 20 mg tablets of fluoxetine are about $31. The brand-name versions of both Zoloft and Prozac are much more expensive. Compared to Prozac, Zoloft’s brand name prescription is more expensive; $442 for thirty 100 mg tablets, while thirty 20 mg tablets of Prozac cost about $472.

The generic versions of both drugs are more likely to be covered by insurance plans because they cost less. 

How to Access Prescription Drugs at a Lower Cost

While prescription medications can be quite costly, there are a few ways to access prescriptions at a lower cost. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

  • Ask about the generic version: As you can see from the comparison above, the generic versions of both Zoloft and Prozac are significantly less expensive when compared to the brand name. By asking your provider about the generic versions of your medication, you may be able to save money on your prescription. 
  • Look into prescription assistance programs: Many times, the prescription drug manufacturer will have prescription assistance programs that can help patients afford the medications. Pfizer offers PfizerRx Pathways, which can help patients pay for the cost of Zoloft. And the Lilly Cares Foundation offers prescription assistance when accessing Prozac. However, you should know that prescription assistance programs will require patients to apply before receiving any aid.
  • Call pharmacies beforehand: Many people do not know that where you get a prescription filled influences the cost, you will pay. So, before picking up your prescription, you may want to call around to different pharmacies to see what your cost will come out to. You can also see if there are any discount programs the pharmacy is offering.
  • Look for coupons or discounts: Many different companies offer coupons and discounts for medications. Mira, for example, offers up to 80% off prescription discounts using MiraRx.

Zoloft vs. Prozac Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

To help further understand the differences between Zoloft and Prozac, below we answer some frequently asked questions about the two medications.

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What forms do Zoloft and Prozac come in, and what’s the standard dosage?

Zoloft comes in the following forms:

  • An oral tablet
  • An oral solution

Prozac comes in the following form:

  • Oral capsule delayed release

How long is a typical treatment?

Both Zoloft and Prozac may require long-term treatment. However, this largely depends on the condition that’s being treated. 

Doctors usually recommend patients stay on an antidepressant for at least one year to experience the full benefits. Additionally, you should always seek professional medical guidance when you stop taking Zoloft or Prozac to avoid Discontinuation Syndrome.  

Can I drink alcohol while on Zoloft or Prozac?

“You should avoid alcohol completely while taking both medications; however, you should check with your doctor. Even just one alcoholic drink can interact with the medication and cause unwanted side effects. The combination of alcohol and either medication can cause side effects, and drinking alcohol can make your symptoms worse,” says Dr. Nouhavandi. 

Does Zoloft or Prozac have any drug interactions?

Your doctor should avoid prescribing you Zoloft or Prozac with the following drugs:

  • Triptans
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
  • Fentanyl
  • Lithium
  • Tramadol
  • Tryptophan
  • Buspirone
  • Amphetamines
  • St. John’s wort
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

If you are already taking one of the drugs above before starting Zoloft or Prozac, be sure to communicate this with your doctor.

Can I get Zoloft or Prozac over-the-counter?

Zoloft and Prozac are not offered over-the-counter. To obtain Zoloft or Prozac, you will need to consult with your doctor and receive a prescription for the medication.

Can I take Zoloft and Prozac at the same time? 

It is not recommended to take Prozac and Zoloft at the same time. Both of these drugs are in the same drug class and have the same actions in the body. Taking both drugs will not improve symptoms and can cause additional side effects.

Bottom Line

Zoloft and Prozac have a handful of major differences, such as the conditions the medications treat and age limitations, side effects, and the generic medications. Zoloft and Prozac also have higher brand-name costs when compared to their generic versions. There are ways, however, to access both medications. 

With Mira, members get access to up to 80% off prescriptions, low-cost lab testing, and affordable urgent care visit. Sign up today and start coverage.