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Zoloft withdrawal

Hi I was originally given Zoloft for Anxiety when I was a teenager. Fastforward almost 10 years later.. I am trying to wean off of it. I have tried before with bad withdrawal and fearfulness of what would happen. I now feel even more depressed, which is strange I was never originally given medication for depression. After trying to wean off, I feel worse. I haven't had anxiety in years but my doctors told me "just stay on the meds for the rest of your life". I  now no longer wish to use psychiatric medication, but am worried the Zoloft permanently damaged or re-wired my brain. I don't feel like myself. I feel symptoms I've never had, as if my body cannot function without Zoloft. My emotions are completely blunted and I feel spacey all the time, and sad. (Ive never felt that way even before being on medication). I am on about 3–6 mg daily, and am afraid to completely quit. Was my brain and body damaged due to a decade of being on this medication?

For anyone using psychiatric medication for troubling emotions, let me recommend Elyse Fitzpatrick's book: "Will Medicine Stop the Pain?" It is a Bible-based approach to troubling emotions.
12 Responses
Avatar universal
Dose your doctor know about this? Are you seeing a psychiatrist?
You have to be really careful about self medicating. You should never wean yourself of of psychiatric meds without your doctor's advice. I really don't think that your brain chemistry has been damaged. These medicines are here to help. I myself have been on Zoloft along with many other psychiatric medicines and my brain and body seem to be doing okay!
You may no longer wish to use medicine. I wish I didn't have to take medicine but I know I need it. Mental illness, pardon the term, is like any other kind of enduring disease for example, diabetes. It needs to be treated and that treatment could last a lifetime.
Please talk to your doctor before you mess with your meds. It could be dangerous to your mental health. Remember you are not alone medication can be a scary thing, but these doctors are here to help.

Please keep me updated, okay?

Avatar universal
Don't try to wean yourself off these meds by yourself.  I too have been on Zoloft and came off of it with some side effects but I did this with consultation with the doctor which helped minimize the effects of coming off of it.  While there were some side effects in my experience, they did subside, but I was also talking it over with a therapist during all of this.  
Avatar universal
Thank you for your comments! Yes I was doing this under my doctor's supervision. Not a psychiatrist, just my general primary care MD. I am going to speak to a psychiatrist (not for therapy, just to find out the long-term effects of these medications). I have now been "clean" for a whole year, it has been really tough but I think I am over the withdrawal effects. If I can do it, anyone can.....it was incredibly difficult to adjust, but I am doing it, by God's grace.

Remember that there is no conclusive evidence as to HOW and WHY these drugs, such as Zoloft work. Or, why they help some people and not others. Scientists do not know why they make people feel better. That is scary to me, they're not sure about their mechanism. Pay attention to the commercials.. they use a lot of "may be" or "it is believed", and so on.

Another great book to read (bible-based) is "Depression: A Stubborn Darkness" by Edward Welch.

Avatar universal
Can only tell you these meds affect people differently. I've never recovered from my Paxil withdrawal going on three years now.  But nobody can tell me how to fix it.  It's very rare, but there are reports of people having long term effects, but it's largely anecdotal because no researcher has written an article about it.  So we have people complaining of it, but nobody cares enough to do any research about it.  That's where we are right now.  My psychiatrists (yes, I've consulted a few), my doctor, my psychologist are all mystified.  The truth is, nobody knows what these drugs actually do to people, just what they do to most people.
Avatar universal
Thank you for your comment as well. It's been 1 year and I still don't feel like "myself", and wonder if I ever will. Of course....... being on meds for about 11 years, what is "normal"? :)  My body has had medical problems since withdrawling, that i never had before. I feel sick a lot. What kind of issues are you still having, Paxiled? I feel a lot different and am having trouble with concentration, blunted emotions, etc. Still feeling like a space cadet...."detached".  I really wouldn't say I'm "back to being depressed" since I never took it for depression anyway. I just feel sorta spaced out. I also lost a ton of weight, which was kind of nice, but terrifying at the time. I lost 20 lbs after quitting Zoloft, and have not gained it back. I now have thyroid and gallbladder problems. Go figure! I commend you for quitting...... how are you doing now?  I too come across doctors who don't know what the drugs do long term. No one really knows....... I mean, when youre messing with neurotransmitters for long periods of time, you never know if you'll be the same afterwards. I think we just have to adjust to the "new normal".
Avatar universal
My case is pretty weird, or at least I think it is.  How can one tell?  I went on Paxil for anxiety attacks.  After a few years I developed insomnia, and along with the other side effects and my devoting myself full time to fiction writing, I just felt I had to go off.  My psychiatrist did a six week taper, and at first it was weird physiologically, but then I fell apart emotionally.  I became incredibly anxious all the time, morbidly depressed, and my phobias go worse than when I started the drug.  The physiological stuff, tiredness, insomnia, disorientation, have never gone away either, I lost my sense of humor and ability to enjoy anything.  I also lost a lot of weight because foods I've always loved became sickening.  Unfortunately, my shrink never told me about withdrawal, nor did he treat it as such when I went through it.  I finally got the nerve to go on the net and figured it out, but by the time I saw a different shrink on my own dime, she had no idea what to do.  I finally went on Lexapro, and while I was able to sleep some, it hasn't done much more.  At least I'm overweight again on the Lexapro; I'd gained 50 pounds on the Paxil!

Now, your gallbladder problem stems from the liver, and all these antidepressants have liver problems potentially, so that might be an issue.  The thyroid might have been a problem all along, as it causes many problems people assume are anxiety.  But again, who knows?  Pharmaceutical companies lie, doctors and shrinks lack curiosity and are clueless, and nobody has money to research consequences of drugs because there's no money in it.  I hope you have better luck than I have.  At least we're alive; prescription drugs kill hundreds of thousands a year.
Avatar universal
I keep telling myself that staying on Zoloft is good for me, but then I read these posts and get all nervous about the fact that I have to take drugs to be normal. I've taken Zoloft for about 15 years, since my mother's death. My dad takes Zoloft too. I can tell you that both of us are not pleasant to be around when we are off our drugs. I get "bitchy," moody, demanding, depressed, frustrated.

However, I also remember pre-Zoloft .. and the times I attempted suicide and really hoped I would succeed. I know how I felt then and how I viewed the world. Zoloft does let me function as a real person.

I have a theory about my situation at least. My mom was anorexic. She barely gained 9 pounds when she had me, I was almost 6 lbs. She had been anorexic since she was 19, so defnitely before even conceiving me. My theory is that I inherited the "depression gene" from my dad's side, but the lack of nutrients from not only prebirth, but also postpartum (I was bottle-fed), exacerbated the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

If you are happier with your Zoloft (or Cymbalta, or Paxil, or whatever) than without it, I think that the "addiction" is much the same as a caffeine addiction. It is relatively harmless to how you interact with the world. After all, everything (food, water, air, etc) has been shown to "kill" you in some way (through cancer or age). Take what you need to in order to life a satisfying, full life.
Avatar universal
I have taken Zoloft for close to 15 years, when I had a case of Major Depression.  Since then I've been mostly non-depressed but have occasional bouts that seem to come and go regardless of taking Zoloft.  

I am now trying to go off Zoloft (cold turkey, which is why I found this web site :*(  - I had an anxiety attack last night, only the second I've ever had in my life)

The reason I'm quitting Zoloft is because, apparently, my life-long bouts with depression and SAD were caused by low Vitamin-D levels. Low Vitamin D can cause quite a few problems such as depression, cognitive impairment and a bunch of other issues. I think Doctors are just beginning to realize how important VitD is.

Most people don't drink enough milk to get the VitD they need, and you're not allowed to go out in the sun anymore without sunscreen. Since my Dr put me on the VitD supplements, after about two month, I feel better than I have in years. My mental sharpness is back to where it should be, and where it hasn't been in a couple of years. Plenty of energy too.

I'm generally very sensitive to meds, so ymmv, but I would urge everyone on here to ask your Dr to check your vitamin D level. My Dr has me take 50,000 iu once/week for three months, and 2000 iu daily. (Please don't start taking the supplements without checking with your doctor first)

Try googling "Vitamin D Deficiency" to see what's being said about it. You'll see some information from the Vitamin D Council, but be aware that this is a industry-sponsored group and web site, which doesn't mean it's wrong, but it does have a financial stake in selling VitD supplements.

Now, if I can get through the zoloft withdrawal, life will be peachy again {:*)

JoJo - (And I have no financial interest in any company producing Vitamin D)
Avatar universal
I have also been on Zoloft for 12 years and have been trying to ween myself for the past year and a half. I take 50mg every second to third day, then by the third day the weird sensations in my head start and forces me to take another dose.
You mentioned being spacey. You also mentioned that you have thyroid issues. I can tell you right now that thyroid issues, such as hypothyroidism can lead majorly to forgetfullness, spacing out, not being able to concentrate etc. I've talked to a lot of fellow thyroid sufferers having the same problem (and they are not all on antidepressants).
Also I wondered if our initial doctor visits regarding anxiety and depression wasn't caused by a failing thyroid. I did a bit of research on this. I'm by no means a doctor or specialist in this field, but hormonal imbalances due to thyroid dysfunction can lead to anxiety and depression. I had anxiety for years, even on zoloft, but after began a steady dose of synthroid, my anxiety completely vanished. I understand it somewhat like this: When the body registers not having enough thyroid hormones, it will use other glands (such as the adrenal gland) to compensate for what's missing. Thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism in each cell and when something is amiss in that regard, the adrenal gland tries to even things out (heart beat, breathing etc). Adrenalin and other hormones from the adrenals are pretty harsh hormones and usually only used for extreme situations, such as fright and flight or extreme bodily exertions, hence the feeling of panic. I personally think that I was misdiagnosed and mistreated by doctors. On the other hand, I know that it's not easy to figure out if there is a thyroid problem or not, no matter how subtle. Wish you the best in getting this all figured out
Avatar universal
scary. i take zoloft. sometimes i wish i'd never started taking medicine period. i wonder what life would have been like.
Avatar universal
Have you considered that you feel crappy after going off your meds because THEY WERE WORKING????  How can someone recommend a book about going off their antidepressant when they fully admit they're still depressed?  
1330182 tn?1279819500
I have been on antidepressants for 10 YEARS!! Even though I had anxiety before the meds, the SSRI's DESTROYED my body and my mind!!! I finally went on Prozac after being on Zoloft for 8 years (which made me a fat zombie)  Unfortunately, the prozac was too stimulating and caused my anxiety to skyrocket. I am having horrible SSRI discontinuation symptoms now.. When I was on SSRI's, they actually made me depressed!!
I agree with paxiled "Pharmaceutical companies lie, doctors and shrinks lack curiosity and are clueless, and nobody has money to research consequences of drugs because there's no money in it." All these commericals telling people that their stressful life can be cured with a pill... What a JOKE!!! Did anyone ever listen to the hundreds of side effects these "miracle pills" cause??? No wonder the world is so screwed up! More than half of the country is drugged out on SSRI's!!!
Find a reputable Endo or MD that will check your thyroid.. Not just TSH, but the antibodies as well.. I am willing to bet that 80% or more cases of anxiety are caused by failing adrenals/thyroid.. SSRI's are overkill for anxiety and should be used after all other tests have been done.. I am praying that I don't have to resort to SSRI's again because I feel that I lost 10 years of my life!  
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