Viibryd vs Zoloft

Listen to the article instead of reading through it.


For patients dealing with major depressive disorder (MDD) or other forms of depression, certain medications that modify the balance of substances in the brain associated with mood — known as neurotransmitters — can assist in stabilizing depressive swings and managing symptoms. Viibryd and Zoloft are two such medications commonly prescribed for depression. Each affects different neurotransmitters in the brain but both have significant effects on mood stabilization. Viibryd, also known as vilazodone, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and partial 5-HT1A receptor agonist affecting levels of serotonin while creating fewer sexual side effects than most SSRIs. Zoloft, on the other hand, also an SSRI primarily affects levels of serotonin like Viibryd but may be linked to more weight gain and sleep issues.

What is Viibryd?

Vilazodone (the generic name for Viibryd) is a member of the SSRI class and serotonin receptor agonist, which represents an evolution in the category of antidepressant drugs. Vilazodone was first approved by the FDA in 2011. Like other SSRIs, it works by increasing levels of free serotonin but also acts as a partial agonist at serotonin type 1A receptors. It is prescribed primarily for major depressive disorder (MDD). Viibryd has selective influence on serotonin with only minor effects on other neurotransmitters.

On the other hand, Sertraline (Zoloft), another SSRI that was approved by the FDA much earlier in 1991, also increases levels of free serotonin but does not have any significant effect on norepinephrine or dopamine reuptake. Both medications are designed to treat depression among other mental disorders; however, Zoloft's use is more widespread and includes treatment for panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Overall side effects profiles are similar between these two drugs; although individual experiences may vary significantly.

What conditions is Viibryd approved to treat?

Viibryd is approved for the treatment of certain types of depression:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD), a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities causing significant impairment in daily life.

Meanwhile, Zoloft has been approved for even more conditions, including:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

How does Viibryd help with these illnesses?

Viibryd works to manage depression by increasing the amount of serotonin available in the synapses of the brain. It does this through a dual mechanism of action - it inhibits the reuptake of serotonin into neurons, thereby allowing more to be available, and simultaneously acts as a partial agonist at one subtype of serotonin receptor (5-HT1A). This is thought to amplify its antidepressant effects. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in mood regulation, cognition, memory, sleep patterns and various other physiological processes. It's generally accepted that individuals with depression may have relatively lower levels of serotonin available in their brains. Therefore, by enhancing the availability and activity of serotonin using Viibryd, patients can potentially see improvements in their depressive symptoms and experience better mood stability.

What is Zoloft?

Zoloft, also known by its generic name sertraline, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This means it increases the levels of serotonin in the brain by reducing its reabsorption. Zoloft was first approved by the FDA in 1991 and has since become a common medication for treating depression and anxiety disorders.

Unlike Viibryd which combines both SSRI and partial serotonin receptor agonist actions, Zoloft solely focuses on inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin. This specific action makes it less likely to cause certain side effects like gastrointestinal issues that are commonly associated with dual-action drugs like Viibryd.

However, as an SSRI, Zoloft does carry some risk of causing weight changes and sexual dysfunction - potential drawbacks not typically seen with non-SSRIs such as Wellbutrin. The increase in available serotonin can be beneficial for those who respond well to “typical” SSRI antidepressant drugs.

What conditions is Zoloft approved to treat?

Zoloft is an FDA-approved medication used for the treatment of:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)

How does Zoloft help with these illnesses?

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays crucial roles in various processes in the body, such as mood regulation, sleep patterns, appetite and memory recall. Similar to norepinephrine, an imbalance of serotonin levels has been associated with depression. Zoloft functions by increasing the levels of serotonin available in the brain, hence alleviating some symptoms of depression. Its effect on other neurochemical systems may also contribute to its efficacy as an antidepressant. Unlike Viibryd which acts on both serotonin receptors and transporter sites influencing not only their availability but also their functionality, Zoloft primarily inhibits the reuptake of serotonin making more available within the synaptic cleft between neurons leading to enhanced neurotransmission. Therefore Zoloft is often prescribed when patients do not respond well to “atypical” SSRI antidepressants like Viibryd or can be combined with them for a more potent effect.

How effective are both Viibryd and Zoloft?

Both vilazodone (Viibryd) and sertraline (Zoloft) are commonly prescribed for the treatment of major depressive disorder, though they were approved by the FDA several years apart, with sertraline having a longer history of use. Since they act on different neurotransmitters, these medications may be chosen based on individual patient needs. Vilazodone and sertraline have both been directly studied in clinical trials for their effectiveness in alleviating depression symptoms; they demonstrated similar efficacy as well as comparable safety profiles.

A 2011 review of vilazodone found that it can effectively alleviate depression symptoms beginning from the first week of treatment, has fewer sexual side effects than other antidepressants due to its unique mechanism of action involving serotonin receptor partial agonism alongside serotonin reuptake inhibition, and is generally well-tolerated. The same study reports that an optimal daily dose is around 40 mg/day.

On the other hand, a 2006 meta-analysis indicated that sertraline seems equally effective compared to other common antidepressants including fluoxetine and citalopram in treating depression but stands out due to its favorable side effect profile especially concerning gastrointestinal complaints or sleep disturbances. Nonetheless, like many SSRIs there's potential risk for sexual dysfunction which might necessitate switching medication if intolerable for patients. Sertraline also has robust evidence supporting its efficacy not only in managing symptoms of major depressive disorder but also anxiety-related disorders such as social anxiety disorder or panic disorder.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Viibryd typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Viibryd are typically started at 10 mg/day, then increased to 20 mg after one week and potentially further increased to a maximum of 40 mg/day depending on the individual's response. It is generally recommended not to exceed this dosage. For Zoloft, initial oral dosages for treating major depressive disorder in adults typically start around 50-100mg per day with some patients requiring up to a maximum dose of 200mg per day. Children and adolescents may be started at lower doses like 25mg per day and gradually increased if needed under medical supervision. As always, it is essential that changes in medication doses are done only under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

At what dose is Zoloft typically prescribed?

Zoloft therapy typically commences at a dose of 50 mg/day. If the desired response is not achieved, the dosage can then be increased to 100-200 mg/day, divided into two doses if necessary for better tolerance. The maximum recommended therapeutic dose is 200 mg/day, taken as one or two doses based on individual tolerability and efficacy. This may be tested if there's no significant improvement in symptoms after several weeks at lower dosages. It's important to remember that Zoloft should always be taken under doctor supervision and sudden discontinuation should be avoided due to potential withdrawal symptoms.

What are the most common side effects for Viibryd?

Common side effects of Viibryd and Zoloft can range from mild to severe. Some people may experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, or changes in appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Decreased libido (sex drive) and other sexual difficulties such as delayed ejaculation and inability to reach orgasm
  • Dizziness, feeling faint when standing up too quickly
    -Tremors (shaking) -Fatigue or a general feeling of being unwell (malaise)

Additionally for Viibryd: -Unusual dreams

For Zoloft: -Nervousness

It's important to remember that not everyone experiences these side effects and they often decrease over time as your body adjusts to the medication. However, if you start experiencing any unusual symptoms after starting these medications, it's crucial to contact your healthcare provider immediately.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Viibryd?

Comparing Viibryd to Zoloft, both are SSRI class drugs and have potential side effects that include:

  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Signs of an allergic reaction: rashes, hives, difficulty breathing; swelling on the face, lips, tongue or throat.
  • Eye problems such as blurred vision, changes in visual acuity or pain and swelling around the eyes.
  • Cardiovascular issues like rapid heartbeat, chest palpitations or feelings of light-headedness (potentially leading to fainting).
  • Hyponatremia - low sodium levels characterized by headache, confusion, slurred speech. severe weakness muscle cramps vomiting seizures loss of coordination
  • Neurological reactions including rigid muscles with high fever sweating fast heartbeats feeling you might pass out -Symptoms associated with serotonin syndrome—an excess of serotonin in the brain—can also occur. These may include restlessness agitation hallucinations overactive reflexes fever nausea vomiting diarrhea loss of coordination fast heart rate.

If any such symptoms arise during treatment with either drug immediate medical attention should be sought. The decision between using Viibryd versus Zoloft will depend on individual patient factors considerations regarding their specific health status other medications they're taking personal response to medication and their healthcare provider's judgement.

What are the most common side effects for Zoloft?

Zoloft, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, can have side effects such as:

  • Dry mouth and changes in appetite or weight
  • Upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Drowsiness or dizziness
  • Sweating more than usual
  • Nervousness and shaking (tremors)
  • Sexual problems - including decreased libido and delayed ejaculation -Symptoms of serotonin syndrome: agitation, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, fever -Rash or hives on your skin. -Increased urination isn't typically associated with Zoloft. However if you're experiencing this symptom it's important to discuss it with your doctor.
    -Severe headache that doesn't go away could be a sign of an adverse reaction – contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience this. -Muscle weakness could occur due to the impact Zoloft may have on electrolytes levels in some rare cases.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Zoloft?

While Zoloft is typically well-tolerated, it's important to be aware of potential adverse effects. Notable side effects can include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction including hives, difficulty breathing or swallowing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Changes in mood, behavior or thoughts about suicide
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Blurred vision and eye pain
  • Increased heart rate that feels too fast or irregular
  • Hallucinations, agitation and fever - signs of a possible serotonin syndrome condition
  • Easy bruising and abnormal bleeding.

If you experience any such symptoms while taking Zoloft, seek immediate medical attention. It's essential to remember that everyone reacts differently to medication; what works best for one person may not work as well for another. Always consult with your healthcare provider about the potential risks and benefits before making changes to your medication regimen.

Contraindications for Viibryd and Zoloft?

Both Viibryd and Zoloft, like most other antidepressants, have the potential to exacerbate symptoms of depression in certain individuals. If you observe an intensification of your depressive symptoms or a surge in suicidal thoughts or behaviors, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Viibryd nor Zoloft should be taken if you are currently taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), or have been on them recently. Always inform your healthcare provider about all the medications you're taking; MAOIs need around two weeks to be completely eliminated from your body before safe commencement of either Zoloft or Viibryd can occur, as dangerous interactions may arise otherwise.

How much do Viibryd and Zoloft cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 30 tablets of Viibryd (40 mg) averages around $300, which works out to about $10/day.
  • The price for 30 tablets of Zoloft (50 mg) is approximately $340, working out to roughly $11.30/day.

Thus, if you are on a standard dosage for either medication, then both have comparable daily costs. Remember that cost should not be your primary consideration in deciding which drug would suit you best—it's essential to consult with your healthcare provider.

For their respective generic versions—vilazodone and sertraline—the costs are significantly lower:

  • Vilazodone is available in boxes ranging from 5 to 90 tablets (20 mg), with an approximate daily cost ranging from as low as $0.80 up to roughly $1 per day depending on the package size.
  • Sertraline can be bought in quantities varying between 14 and 500 capsules (50mg). Daily expenditure starts at just under a penny per day when buying the largest pack upfront but could go up to about $0.70/day depending on where it’s purchased or whether insurance coverage applies.

Popularity of Viibryd and Zoloft

Vilazodone, in generic form as well as brand names such as Viibryd, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 1.2 million people in the US in 2020. Vilazodone accounted for just under 3% of antidepressant prescriptions in the US. Though it's classified as an SSRI and also a Partial agonist of serotonin receptor (5-HT1A), which makes it unique among other SSRIs. The prevalence of vilazodone has been generally increasing since its introduction.

Sertraline, including brand versions such as Zoloft, was prescribed to nearly 38.9 million people in the USA in 2020 making it one of the most commonly used psychiatric medications overall. In the US, sertraline accounts for almost a quarter of SSRI prescriptions and around 20% of total antidepressant prescriptions due to its broad spectrum efficacy and tolerability profile compared with other SSRIs. The prevalence rate for Sertraline has remained steady over recent years but saw an uptick due to increased mental health issues during pandemic.


Both Viibryd (vilazodone) and Zoloft (sertraline) are widely used in the treatment of depression, with extensive clinical studies and meta-analyses supporting their efficacy over placebo treatments. Occasionally, these drugs may be used together under close medical supervision despite some contraindications. They have different mechanisms of action: Viibryd is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and partial 5-HT1A receptor agonist while Zoloft acts as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.

Zoloft is often considered a first-line treatment, whereas Viibryd might typically serve as an addition to Zoloft or for patients who did not respond well to initial SSRI antidepressants or need to avoid certain side-effects common with SSRIs like sexual dysfunction.

Generic versions are available for both medications, providing significant cost savings especially for those paying out-of-pocket. Patients should understand that there may be an adjustment period during which effects aren't immediately noticeable.

The side effect profiles between the two drugs are somewhat similar; both generally well tolerated but each carrying its own unique risks. For instance, unlike most other SSRIs including Zoloft, Viibryd has less risk of causing sexual dysfunction making it preferable among individuals concerned about this particular side effect. As with all psychiatric medications, patients must closely monitor their moods when initiating therapy and seek immediate medical help if they notice worsening depression or emergence of suicidal thoughts.