Taking Zoloft With Cough Medicine

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not it is safe to take Zoloft with over the counter cough medicine.

Taking Zoloft With Cough Medicine
May 31, 2018

Kelsey asked

Hello I'm currently taking 50 mg of generic Zoloft for anxiety only. Yesterday I was diagnosed with bronchitis. My doctor prescribed me a zpack but I'm struggling with a BAD cough. Is it alright for me to take otc cough medicine while taking Zoloft?


Cough MedicineThere is potentially a major interaction between Zoloft (sertraline) and the over the counter cough medication dextromethorphan. Dextromethophan can be found in numerous cough/cold products, such as:

  • Deslym
  • Robitussin DM
  • Mucinex DM
  • DayQuil

Make sure you read the labels of any product you are looking to purchase.

Zoloft - Dextromethorphan Interaction

For more in-depth information on Zoloft interactions with over the counter products, we wrote extensively about this subject in another article: Cold Medications To Avoid While Taking Zoloft. Below is a summary of the potential interaction between Zoloft and dextromethorphan:

Zoloft is a SSRI, and increases serotonin levels in the brain. Dextromethorphan, although to a significantly lessen extent, also has serotonergic effects. Taking both together can increase the risk for additive serotonin-related side effects, most notably, serotonin syndrome.

Serotonin syndrome is a rare but serious medical condition, characterized by the development of:

  • Hyperthermia
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms
  • Mental status changes

If serotonin syndrome occurs, all offending drugs should be stopped and you should seek medical treatment.

As dextromethorphan should be avoided (in most cases) with Zoloft, you should try other over the counter remedies for cough if necessary, such as cough drops, numbing drops (e.g. Cepacol) or natural products like honey syrups.

Ready for a more personal experience with your meds?