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Avatar universal

Coming off Zoloft

This website is wonderfully informative!  Thanks to everyone.

BACKGROUND: I took 75mg of EffexorRX fr May 1997 to June 2000.  Stopped it (I may have tapered down to 37.5mg for a while)w/out even a remote problem; in fact I did not know there could be a problem.  It was diagnosed primarily for feeling overwhelmed and anxiety (I was a had it ALL TOGETHER single mom, no support, successful career but VERY STRESSFUL (CPA/financial planner) who entered perimenopause at age 41!!! and also had a 15 yr old teen-age daughter --- I feel sure the constant stress triggered the early perimenopause.  I entered menopause July 2000...age 46.5.  Anyway, I think my poor little system gave out and that caused the overwhelmed, anxiety issues.

Did fine from June 2000 until April 2001 when contract work dried up and I couldn't find work....I became extremely anxious.  My doctor put me back on EffexorRX 75mg (which I was quite happy to do), but switched to 100mg Zoloft 6 mnths later due to weight gain.  So since Nov 2001 to date --- Aug 2005 I have been taking mostly 50mg Zoloft(I don't seem to need more than this.)

QUESTION:  About 2 wks ago I ran out of Zoloft and have not been able to go to store to pick up.  At the same time I had to work a lot...until 3am in morn twice and 1am in morn one other time and still get up about 6:30am or 7:00.  I have been very tired, very tired and a little bit anxious...which I guess is going off the Zoloft "cold turkey"???  What am I to do now?  I hat to start taking the Zoloft again. How long will this w/drawal last before I feel normal again?  I am planning to start walking w/ my neighbor daily to help get the serotonin levels back up.  I am not eating sugar.  

What is your advise?  I sure wish I did not have to take the Zoloft anymore.  I just hear if I can get through this time I will feel better, but I don't know how long "this time" is?I will do whatever the doctor says, ...just hang in there and I will get better soon, OR start back w/ Zoloft.
31 Responses
242532 tn?1269553979
There are several options to consider. The first is to stay off Zoloft now, you are already through the worst of withdrawals, in fact, with a little sleep, you might find you are over the withdrawals.  Stay off for a month or two in order to decide if you need them again or not...probably not.  The second option is to go back to Zoloft, but at a lower dose or frequency in order to stop the withdrawals, and then wean your self slowly over three weeks, ending with one half dose every third day for a week before you stop altogether.
Avatar universal
I realize that my question makes it look like a comment, I want to be victorious, but I need Dr. Gould to answer my question.

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Avatar universal
If discontinuing all psychotropic medication is the answer you're seeking --- Have you tried behavioural therapy?

In my practice, I've had quite a few patients like yourself -- I'd usually get them started with something mild like Zoloft or BuSpar and refer them to a psychologist for some behavioural therapy to learn about coping skills. I've heard that biofeedback has helped some ... but I know that some studies are mixed on the results.

Exercise might help a lot, too.
Avatar universal
Thank you ckg...you are right.  I do need some therapy to help; process and re-learn and change...it is just that I cannot afford therapy. I have had some counseling at several different points in life but it did not seem to help all that much.   (This is not sarcastic)-- do you know of anything affordable?  or good books to read.  I wish I could find a "productive" group therapy.
Avatar universal
Hey Victorious,

I'm so happy to hear that you're open to the thought of seeing a behavioural therapy option.  

As someone trained in allopathic medicine, I'm so used to seeing all patients with some form of organic illness.  The same rings true with many of my colleagues.  It wasn't until I started having a lot of success with patients on both a medication therapy + behavioural therapy that I reazlied the power of what helps.  Mostly, I've seen that the patients who undergo the behavioural therapies tend to have a decreased rate of depression than those who don't.

As for something affordable ... I think you might have solved your own problem there.  I think that group therapy might be your best option.  Make sure that it's led by a someone that is a psychologist (and not a "counselor" - as this is a title that is not necessarily one that comes with any type of advanced degree).   I've had a few patients helped by a "good" group therapy ... it gave 1, in particular, a great insight into what she was going through.

Best of luck! You seem to be an accomplished, career-oriented person -- you have to prevail.
Avatar universal

Thank you again for your comments.  This morning I feel very on edge, want to cry for no reason, have zero, zero, zero, zero  energy and motivation.  This is not me...I like to have energy and motivation and to accomplish things and love people....I am all mixed up now.

Help me understand what you are saying when you say, "As someone trained in allopathic medicine, I'm so used to seeing all patients with some form of organic illness. The same rings true with many of my colleagues. It wasn't until I started having a lot of success with patients on both a medication therapy + behavioural therapy that I reazlied the power of what helps. Mostly, I've seen that the patients who undergo the behavioural therapies tend to have a decreased rate of depression than those who don't."

This is what I think you are saying....combine the low dose of Zoloft and get in a BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY group type of therapy group led by a psychologist...because combined the Zoloft calms the person down and the correct therapy helps uncover the issues (or MAYBE it is not a root issue...MAYBE it is just very, very bad habit patterns?).  I don't mean to be so dense, but I truly appreciate your direction and help.

I just don't want to start taking the Zoloft again, if all I need to do is suffer like this for another week or two.  

Does any of this make sense?

You are a blessing.

PS Since it seems you are a psychologist -- preferring Behavioural Therapy --- do you know of any of these type of psychologists in the Atlanta, Roswell, Norcross, Alpharetta area?
Avatar universal
Hey there,

Again ... my thoughts are with you on this day - and I hope that things have looked brighter since you last wrote.

A quick clarification ... I am trained in allopathic medicine (the normal doctor that everyone sees - MD; as opposed to other physicians like osteopathic medicine - DO; or chiropractic physicians).  

I do advocate behavioural therapy -- and what you've written is absolutely correct.  I believe that anti-depressant therapies aid people enough to get them to a place to uncover what might be really bothering them.  Secondary to this --- I believe that some people have organic illnesses and suffer from depression for no reason at all (other than a dysfunction within the body) - while most have some underlying reason to their depression, anxiety, etc.  I believe that some are able to overcome some of the obstacles that life sets forth for them without any help from others.  However, these people are very rare and are often troubled far longer than they need to be.  It is a truly special person who is able to confront what's going on in their lives and regain the control that they deserve.  I think this is within you. I say this not merely in jest -- you've realized that you're feeling badly; you know that there are certain things you can control and certain factors that you can't; and most of all -- you know that there are mechanisms to help you get through this tough time.  Keeping faith in these is paramount.

In my opinion, and it is merely an opinion -- I'd consider discussing re-initiating the medication therapy and although you can't afford a psychologist right now, group therapy is available and is a great mechanism to support you.

The ultimate goal of the combined therapies is prevent you from having set-backs in the future and to gain an insight into what's causing the problem to begin with.  If you can get through this tough time - your days will look brighter and any set-backs along the path (and there will be some, although hopefully not many!) will diminish over time -- ultimately -- you can go forward with your life and that can be a very powerful thing.

Good luck to you ... please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help.

Avatar universal
Thank you for your instruction.

I was trying to determine if I felt weird/bad b/c I came off the 50mgs so quickly (almost 3 wks ago) and was just now feeling the effects, BUT that these effects would dissipate over w/in the next week or so.  My reasoning is b/c when I started both EffexorRX and Zoloft the first several weeks are a bit "bumpy and edgy"  ----OR ----

if I needed to start back (I have now have my prescription in hand) -- which it sounds like from your professional opinion may be a good thing to do.  I have to work and I have to have energy!!!!

One possible complication is that I am also detoxing to kill some Candida in my system and that could be zapping me of my energy and complicating and mixing up the issues!

Today, I spoke to a psychologist that goes to my church and found out that he is the Chairman/Head of all "group therapy whatever"... in the Atlanta area and encourages this.  He did not understand my question about "behavioural group therapy" but said the most conclusive evidence indicates the most productive help comes from the relationship btween the psychologist/therapist.  He said to call him, he will ask me questions to determine what my needs are...and then give me some options in the area with good psychchologists trained to help whatever my needs are (which actually I am not sure what they are).  He does not have therapy relationships with people with who he has a relationship, but will direct me to others.

Again, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Avatar universal
You have both been most helpful.

I decided that to try to de-tox from Candida, at a time when I was totally exhausted, AND to also come off Zoloft (50mgs) b/c I didn't have time to pick up my prescription was not a wise thing to do....SO my plan is....

1. I started back the Zoloft, but will do 50 mgs every otherday and see how that goes. and then spread it out further AFTER my body has healed from the detox, and my execising is producting good results.

2. Finish this de-tox (wow...killing Candida is not fun!)

3. Get in some group therapy to get to root issues and/or change behavior.

4. Get the Lord Jesus back in the proper place in my life.

5.  This last year of work with so much catch-up has taken a greater toll than I thought.

Bless you both so much....I truly hope this helps others.
Avatar universal
I read all your posts and can relate. I, too, was on Zoloft and battling depression, mine was mostly pain related, but depression nonetheless. I found it very interesting that you are doing a candida detox. Candida is linked to chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, which could explain your extreme fatigue. Antidepressants are also a common treatment for CFS. You are correct in staying the course on your candida detox. Which detox are you doing? My favorite is Garden of Life Fungal Defense. It's a 2 week program, follow directions on the bottle, drink LOTS of water and you may want to do a series of colonics during and after to help move the yeast out of your system. Yeast is a lifelong problem, but you don't have to suffer with it once the initial detox is done. You will need to stay on a really good probiotic for maintenance for several months. I no longer take an antidepressant. I know you will persevere and start feeling better. Life can and will get better for you! Best of luck.
Avatar universal
Hi. Question: I have just recently gone off Zoloft (100 mg.). Tapered off from 100 to 50 mg for two weeks, then 25 mg. for a week/week and a half then off completely a week ago. Felt fine while tapering, but after going off the Zoloft completely a week ago I have these strange symptoms that my doc seems to think are not related to ending my Zoloft treatment. For example, when a turn my head or body I get a zinger of a feeling--like a little electric bolt suddenly. It is from the waist up, in the chest and head. I feel off-balance too which certainly concerns me when driving. I just can't believe this isn't related to stopping the Zoloft. They coincided perfectly. Any thoughts? How long will this last? I feel really well otherwise--emotionally and physically. What's up here? Thanks for any help you can provide.
Avatar universal
This is for grojb:

I think that what you are describing are called "brain zaps" or "brain shivers" by many SSRI users who have withdrawn from these medications.  I have also heard of the dizziness you have described being associated with this.

I am currently on 200 mg of Zoloft.  If I forget to take my morning dose of 100 mg for say a week (it has happened!) so that my dose is effectively halved, I get a symptom that sounds like the one you have described.  It is like an electric shock through the back, arms and head for me.  I get it at any time, but particularly when I turn my head.  Tiny noises can also set it off for me.  If I go back on my regular dose, they soon recede and I'm back to "normal".

I don't know how long you were on 100 mg for, but reducing it to nothing in 4 weeks only may have been too quick.  I have read that if you have been on these drugs for many years, it is best to actually take an entire year to come off them.   It sounds excessive, I know, but it's what I plan to do myself eventually.

Sadly, it's not uncommon for doctors to not know about these sorts of withdrawal symptoms.  It's the users who find out

If I'm right that it's the SSRI brain zaps, I do not know how long this will last for you.  I have heard online that taking fish oil capsules helps - say three a day, but not huge amounts.  If I find out anything more, I will let you know, but the fish oil is all I have heard for now.
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