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Avatar universal

Zoloft and Anxiety

I have been on Zoloft 50 mg for the past year due to post partum depression.  Recently, I have been feeling less than competent.  Assuming it was time to starting weaning from the Zoloft, I cut my dose on half and have been taking 25 mg for the past 3-4 days.  Since then I've been either unmotivated to get do anything or "bouncing off the walls".  I feel very overwhelmed and incompetent.  I feel as if everything is urgent, nothing can wait.  And if I have several tasks to complete, I really get frustrated, irritated, and angry.  I think I have Anxiety Depressive disorder related to weaning from Zoloft.  If this is true, should I just keep trying to wean and hope that in a few weeks I'm more normal?  Should I take an antianxiety medication to help with the side effects??
20 Responses
Avatar universal
I hope you are under the supervision of a medical doctor.  One should never "wean" from SSRI's (and Zoloft is a SSRI med) without close supervision.  What do you mean by anti-anxiety medication?  That is what Zoloft is - please contact your physician.
Avatar universal
My husband believes, based on his experience, that tapering off Zoloft should go at a slower pace to help avoid anxious feelings. He found a tapering schedule (which his doctor approved) at www.theroadback.org to help get off of Zoloft specifically. He thinks, if your doctor agrees, that perhaps you should go back up to 50 mg. until you feel like yourself again, and then start tapering at a much slower pace.

My husband takes a fish oil capsule and a high-potency Vitamin B complex every day. When you talk to your doctor about tapering off of the Zoloft, you might want to ask him/her about what supplements might help you. Also, much credit is rightfully given to exercise in helping to ward off depression and anxiety. My husband says he always feels less stressed when he is exercising regularly and eating healthy foods. I suppose that's true for everyone.

I hope that website will help you. Best wishes to you and your baby.

Avatar universal
I just wanted to add one more thing that I think is important: My husband's doctor insists that Zoloft is not known to have any negative effects from long-term use. This doctor has some patients who have been on it for years. He says that some people just need to stay on it. I guess I just wanted to mention this because you had stated that you assumed it was time to start weaning off of it.
Avatar universal
By anti-anxiety medication, I meant Ativan or Xanax at the times I feel most anxious.  I guess it doesn't make sense, does it?  Thanks for bringing my attention to that.  My OB is the MD that rx'd the Zoloft.  When I took it after my second child, he told me to just stop taking it whenever I felt it was time (cold turkey).  I did that and was over the top with urgency (but, I got a lot done!).
Eventually, I did wean successfully.  But this time while weaning, I 'm feeling more anxious.  I think I need to wait until after the holidays and try again.  Perhaps this is not the best time to try and change things.
Avatar universal
Thank you for the advice regarding Zoloft wean.  I am going to try the website you suggested and go much slower.  I've also decided to wait until after the holidays to wean (when there's not soo much going on).  I agree that exercise is a great way to relieve anxiety.  I can really tell a difference when I am able to get to the gym.  
Avatar universal
I think your question about Ativan/Xanax makes perfect sense because my husband's doctor wrote him a prescription for Xanax to use to "take the edge off" while coming off of Zoloft. My husband decided not to take it partly because he wanted to monitor how he was truly feeling without Zoloft. My dad (who is a pharmacist) saw no problem with my husband taking Xanax SPARINGLY to help him through the tapering process, but my husband just wasn't comfortable with the idea of taking Xanax out of fear of becoming dependant upon it. Apparently Xanax can be quite addictive.

My husband thinks your plan to wait until after the (often stressful) holidays to taper off of Zoloft is a good idea. After all, you want to be able to enjoy these holidays with your little ones! Please remember to be as understanding, compassionate, and patient with yourself as you would with anyone else going through the difficulties that you are having to endure. We sincerely wish you well.
Avatar universal
I appreciate your confirmation of my thoughts about Xanax while weaning Zoloft.  I feel a little better about my ability to rationalize this situation.  I am afraid of getting addicted to another psych drug, so I would absolutely take it only if absolutely necessary.  
How long did it take your husband to completely get off the Zoloft?  I'm a little worried about my abilitly to sleep once I'm off it.  I tend to replay events that happened during the day and worry about them at night (even before I had my third child and got on Zoloft).  The Zoloft has really improved my quality of sleep.  
Again, thank you ( and your husband) for the advice.  It's nice to correspond with someone who understands my feelings.
Avatar universal
It took my husband about 3 months to slowly and completely taper off the Zoloft. He didn't find it difficult to sleep during this time, so hopefully you won't either. We like to take brisk walks outdoors and find that this helps our quality of sleep very much. Also, last night I heard a doctor on t.v. talking about how B vitamins help some people sleep better. Unfortunately, I didn't catch much of this program (it was on PBS). Anyway, I thought about how my husband takes a high-potency B complex every day. Maybe that does help him sleep. If I come across this program again I will post information about it here because it looked like it had great tips for improving sleep quality.  

I have to say, you made me feel like I wasn't alone when you mentioned how you replay events of the day and worry about them. I have gone through times when I will do that, and it is awful! For me, the events always involve interactions with other people - I'll get in bed thinking I will go right to sleep, when all of a sudden I start thinking about the day and wonder if I came across the way I meant to, analyze everything I said, wishing I would have said this or that, etc. I don't do this very often, but when I have it has caused me to feel quite anxious. I'm sorry you've had to endure that.

Please don't hesitate to ask any other questions. We are more than happy to try to help because we know how important support is. And thank you very much for sharing your experiences, too!
Avatar universal
Oh my gosh!  You have just articulated exactly what I mean by "replay events that occurred during the day".  I mean EXACTLY.  The only difference is before the Zoloft, I did it almost EVERY night, especially after a stressful day. And, many times I'd wake up around 2:00am or so and be unable to fall back asleep for a couple of hours.   I'm hoping that this doesn't start to recur once I am completely off the medication.  Did you find anything that helped??   Is this a normal behavior or is there something wrong?  

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with me!  This is definitely therapy:)
Avatar universal
I certainly hope we are normal! I think we are. Perhaps we just have certain personality traits that cause us to do this. I just feel so awful for you that this would happen to you almost every night before Zoloft.

The first time I had this happen was during a particularly stressful time in my life. I noticed that being stressed out seems to be the trigger for me. I'm thinking that maybe it's because I'm the type of person who will try to always present a cheerful image no matter what, especially to people I don't know well. I would start fearing that whomever I talked to that day could see right through me. I would lie there and imagine everything that they were probably thinking about me and maybe even that they felt sorry for me - a particularly unbearable thought because I definitely like to come across as though I have it all together. (My gosh, this IS therapeutic!.)  During these anxious nights, I would pray to God for peace of mind and do deep-breathing to try to slow my racing thoughts. Basically, when I am stressed out I become very self-conscious. Also, I think when I am stressed out I worry more about everything because I feel less in control.

I don't mean to go on and on here, but you've really got me thinking now :) ...When I was in my early twenties, I was very goal-oriented. I still am, but back then my goals were different and easier to achieve because I didn't have a family yet. But when my goals started centering around other people (like trying to be a great wife and mom), then it became harder to measure how well I was doing as compared to doing something like earning a college degree. I'm blessed to have a very wonderful husband, so when he started having anxiety I couldn't help but think I had failed him in some way (I know better now). We were always known for having a great relationship and being so happy. People always would say they wanted what we had and that we were inspiring. So I definitely didn't want to give people the impression his anxiety was because of relationship problems. This would be an example of being extra self-conscious when stressed out. I really hope this makes sense!

Thank you for helping me understand myself better now than when I got up this morning!
Avatar universal
I guess it's obvious, but I meant for the above-message to be addressed to you - sorry.
Avatar universal
I'm glad I sparked something inside you that made you have a better understanding of yourself.  
Sometimes it helps to hear about someone else's issues to better understand your own.
I am back on my regular dose of Zoloft ( and have been for several days now), but am still feeling quite anxious.  I feel hurried and everything is immediate.  I get really agitated and impatient.  My children are away for the day and night and I have so much I would like to accomplish....Christmas shoppe, date-night with hubby, clean my house, organize the closets, relax, read, watch a movie, etc.  I realize there is no way I can accomplish all this within this short time, but I'll do everything I can to get close.  I find that time is my enemy.
The good news is I'm not fretting over things at night currently.  However, when I get up in the morning, I "hit the ground running" and don't stop until the kids are in bed.  Whew!!!  
I don't feel I can win.  If I relax, I get agitated b/c nothing's been accomplished during the day.  If I try to accomplish several things, then I get agitated b/c I took no time to relax while I could.
Every mother can probably identify with at least part of this scenario.  I worry that I am at the extreme.  
Thanks for allowing me to vent my frustration!

Avatar universal
My husband said that when he had stopped Zoloft in the past and then restarted again, it took 1-2 weeks for him to feel like himself. So he really understands your frustration with that.

I can truly relate to the feeling of being overwhelmed with wanting to get things accomplished. What works best for me is writing a detailed list with time frames assigned to each task - including leisure activities. I have trouble functioning sometimes without a list because I  feel "paralyzed" when I feel like I have so much to do that I don't know where to begin. Making a list helps me organize my thoughts. If I find my list is especially long and overwhelming, I will assign tasks that can truly wait to a day later in the week. Then I breathe a sigh of relief! Of course, things will sometimes come up that haven't been scheduled in and I have to drop everything. But then I just tell myself there is always tomorrow! Anyway, it's such a great feeling to cross things off the list after they're done - especially exercise!

I really do think we have similar personality traits, so I'm hoping this will help you as much as it does me.
Avatar universal
Hey there I was reading your conversations and am also coming off my zoloft which I have been taking for 2years  and am feeling very odd myself!! HELP
Avatar universal
I have done lists before when I am feeling overwhelmed, and you're right, it does help.  It feels so good to cross something off the list, what a sense of accomplishment.  That's definitely something I will try to do more consistently.  
I think part of my frustration with getting things done is the fact that I have poor concentration/lack of focus.  I have read that this is a side effect of Zoloft.  Thus, another reason to wean from Zoloft.  
Another thing I think is probably contributing to being agitated and overwhelmed is the use of caffeine.  I've decided to really cut back.  I usually drink 2 cups of coffee in the morning (1/2 caff), and it gives me a boost to start my day.  However, I think it is "boosting" me too much and I am
overstimulated.  I've always been very sensitive to caffeine, but thought I was doing good by using the 1/2 caff.  As a result, today, I've been much more calm.  I'm hoping that when I do starting weaning from Zoloft again the agitation and jitteriness will be more manageable.  
Thanks for all of your kind advice!  
Avatar universal
Welcome to the club!  This is my second time to wean from Zoloft. I take it for post-partum depression.  But actually, it's more for agitation from lack of sleep.  The first time, I had little trouble getting off of it.  This time has been a different story.  I guess you've read my previous postings and know my history.  
Describe feeling very odd.  I'm curious to know your symptoms.
Avatar universal
Taking an antiaxiety med might help get you back where you need to be
Avatar universal
I feel like I can't focus, like "my eyes are all over the map". Overwhelmed. I think caffine is not helping me . I need to cut back!! I was taking 75mg and now am down to 50mg for the past 3 days, then my Dr. said do 50 for a week then 25 until I see him on the 18th and we will go from there?? So was your 1st attempt not sucessful?? How long could I feel this way?? Another thing I have in common with you is the feeling like im rushing and everything is urgent. It drives me crazy!!
Avatar universal
I would definitely talk to your doctor about the side effects you are experiencing.  I did a similar taper when I weaned the first time and did it successfully.  I only took Zoloft after my children due to anxiety/grouchiness from lack of sleep.  My youngest is 1 year old now and I'd like to not take Zoloft anymore.  I definitely think that part of the problem now is that I was drinking too much caffeine in the mornings.  I think it's definitely worth a try for you to cut back as well.    The rush and feeling of urgency I think is greatly attributed to being a mother and having so many responsibilities as well as caffeine.    I've been off caffeine two days now and can absolutely tell a difference.  I am much more calm, more patient with my kids, and more gentle in general.  I'm not trying to do so much at once.  

Avatar universal
I was just wondering how you are doing. I'm fascinated by your ability to quit coffee like that and actually feel better! I end up with a headache when I miss my daily 2 cups of coffee. But it sounds like you are on to something there because I've read that too much caffeine can overstimulate the adrenal glands. It's confusing to know what to do sometimes because I've also read how it's good for your liver and has anti-oxidants. I suppose the key is moderation in most cases. But the fact that you feel sensitive to caffeine maybe is good reason not to have it at all. My husband talks about how he feels "surges" of adrenalin that seem to cause tingling sensations, restlessness, etc., all connected with his overall feeling of anxiety. Coffee certainly can't help that and it makes sense that it would aggravate those horrible feelings. Also, since you are sensitive to caffeine, maybe you'll sleep that much better without it (that is, when you get a chance to sleep when the little ones aren't crying for you!).  Hope you continue to feel better every day!
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