After 12 weeks there was no statistically significant difference between the rhodiola and the Zoloft. Compared to the placebo, rhodiola patients had 1.4 times the odds of improvement while the Zoloft patients had 1.9 times the odds of improvement.
Other evidence is mounting that Zoloft and other SSRIs are no more effective than placebo for depression symptoms.
In the Penn study the researchers concluded that rhodiola may possess a more favorable risk to benefit ratio for individuals with mild to moderate MDD because it produced only half the side effects of Zoloft. In fact, a whopping 63% of patients on Zoloft reported side effects – most commonly nausea and sexual dysfunction. That compared to only 30% of patients on rhodiola.