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Zoloft Withdrawal! Please help!

My doctor (psychiatrist) took me off ZOlOFT. I was on Zoloft for about 5 months at a max dosage of 100mg. When he decided to take me off he did the tapering down process in 25mg increments every five days so I thought that was a good tapering process. I even asked my family doctor and he said yeah that is a safe way to get off the med. I took my last 25mg dose this past Monday night. I never had issues when I was coming off the medicne but about three days ago I started having spells of feeling light headed. I have had bouts of flu type feelings and I feel very tired and worn out. Basically I feel like **** and I dont have the flu. My question is, How long does it take to get Zoloft out of your system? I know your never to stop taking SSRI meds abruptly but when you follow a good tapering schedule and you still deal with wwithdrawal symptoms that's enough to tick a person off. My doctor wants me to start Lexapro but he wants me to wait until Zoloft is completely washed from my system. How many days do I have to put up with this ****? Any answers or advise is much appreciated. You know the medical world tells us that you cant become dependant or addicted to these meds but I tend to dissagree the more I read about people having discontinuation syndrome after following doctors orders on a good weening off process.  

Take Care
217 Responses
242532 tn?1269553979
I recommend a slightly different  schedule where you decrease the dose and the interval over 3 weeks...you might trying going on the smallest dose again every 2 days, then 3 days, then 5 days, then stop.
Avatar universal
Well if it takes 6 weeks for a medication to take its full effects, I can assume it will take awhile to get out of your system completly.  You only took your last dose Monday, however little it was.  I know you just want to experience as little side effects as possible.  Hang in there, you will feel physically better soon.
Avatar universal
Hey, sweetie--I just posted something for guy w/a ? that might help you, too.
If you are having trouble, STRESS to your doc that you don't feel good about waiting for the zoloft to be out of your system before starting the lexapro--like I said to guy, people who recommend clearing one med before starting the next don't understand how we feel when we are off our meds----THIS MOSTLY APPLIES TO THE DOCTORS!  It's important to remember that as sympathetic as people (docs included) can try to be, anyone who has not SUFFERED with depression or anxiety CAN NOT truly understand how debilitating it is.  You do not need to suffer.  I have transitioned between paxil and prozac seamlessly by tapering one, while increasing the other (slowly). If your doc won't do it, find one that will.  They are out there, and you do need to do it under doctor's care to avoid worse things like seratonin syndrome
Avatar universal
The schedule I'm following for coming off the Zoloft was 25mgs. less every two weeks.  I'm at the last week on 50mgs and will be starting 25 tomorrow.  It's miserable and I'm in agony.  I have persistant headaches that my PCP sent me to a CAT scan for -- negative.  My vision is screwey, my eye feels like it is pulling and my eye doctor wants me to consult for possible surgery.  Meanwhile I mentioned the Zoloft tapering to all of my doctors, none of which attributed it to what I am feeling.  An online search brought me here and I see I'm not alone.

I understand everyone's systems and bodies are unique but if there a general idea of how long these symptoms will last?  Weeks? months?

Avatar universal
Hey there Crafty, your posting got me interested enough to sign up for this board.  I feel so badly about your predicament with withdrawals, it's happened to me before and I ended up going back on Zoloft because of it!  The withdrawals sucked SO bad...I felt dizzy and headachey and generally ****** all the time.  Even with the tapering process, it didn't matter.  I believe my shrink at the time knew this would happen and really didn't care.  On one hand I don't fault him because I really did/do need to be on medication...so it's really a no-choice situation... but for him to say he's had NO patients that complained of withdrawal symptoms after tapering off zoloft even in the correct time frame its supposed to be done? That is a downright lie.  Everyone I ever spoke to who took it, had a terrible time getting off of it!  And the idea that your doctor wants you to get your system "clean" before starting a new drug is total BS.  You can start something right away.  My guess is you need to change doctors...sorry... I'd do that immediately if I were you because despite what you might be hearing... it's gonna be a LOOOOOONG time before you feel "better" at this rate.  Sorry for being blunt...
Avatar universal
Thanks Tara.  No worries about being blunt, there's no sugar coating this mess, that's for sure!  Right now I don't have insurance and any new doctor I've contacted has quoted me prices nearing 400.00 for a consult.  I was getting the Zoloft through the prescription care program here in NY but even that started to become a hassle to do.  I was having a few good days but today knocked me for a loop with the brain zaps.  I believe you when you say it's going to be a long, long time.  I'm at a low enough dosage to start something else and the doctor know suggests Thorazine.  Not sure how we went from an SSRI only to a mood stablizer only but there it is.  I go in next week and may ask him about Wellbutrin.  I've read it helps for weight gain as well, which for me, was one of the side effects from the Zoloft.

Thanks for your input.
Avatar universal
Hi Crafty, if you're still here, I tapered and quit Zoloft in March/April and had lots of problems, although not as severe as yours it sounds like...mostly depression, nausea, and rage. It gradually got better over about a month after I completely stopped the medication (which i did early because the withdrawals were just so unpleasant I wanted to get them all over with at once).
  A few weeks ago I started having really acute symptoms of what I believe is depression, so I'm going to go back and maybe start some new medication, probably Wellbutrin. I was just so angry and upset about how hard Zoloft was to get off of, and how nobody tells you about these things, and doctors say "I'm sure that's not what's causing x and y"...anyway, hang in there and good luck.
Avatar universal


Avatar universal
Wow, glad to know I am not the only one feeling crappy!  Sorry, don't like you all to suffer like I am though.

Ugh, the dizziness, slight nausiness, fatigue, ect.  Although my insomnia has gotten better.

I ran out of zoloft and don't have insurance any more, so I had no choice but to stop taking it.  I was taking 50 mg. every day and quit cold turkey, no tapering off.

I am crying a lot more, I become more easily irritated, and constantly clenching my teeth!

Will it ever get better? or am I screwed for life?
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
Hi .. I'm still here, somewhat.  It has been complete, torturous hell for me coming off of the Zoloft.  The brain zapping and all symptoms associated with it have become almost debilitating.  I saw my psychiatrist last week who is putting me back on Zoloft with BusPar.  I haven't started it yet because I thought the withdrawals were subsiding but was shockingly made aware of the fact that they are still there yesterday.  Today (Thanksgiving) is so bad I'm locked up in my apartment with no desire to celebrate.

I just wanted to ride the syptoms out making the suffering worth it at least to stay off of meds.  No such luck.  The mental stuff is back full force, I'm crying at everything, yelling at everyone and confrontational to the point where someone is going to kick my *** for sure.  The physical pain in my head is bad enough to the point where I'm rocking my head back and forth into the wall.  My anxiety is through the roof and I can't get a grip.  I just feel so defeated.

The psych. wanted to try Abilify but said while it's supposed to not have a weight gain effect, one of his patients could not stop eating on it.  Not my first choice as I'm overweight and was hoping to have my system free of all meds to kick up my weight loss efforts.

Zoloft is supposed to be one of those meds to not cause weight gain and I'm not blaming it for mine but just think it's stalling my metabolism and/or thwarting my weight loss efforts.  No matter how much I exercise, what type, etc. I couldn't make a dent.  The eye doctor asked me, "well do you want to be fat and sane or thin and crazy?"  How do you answer an assinine question like that?  At 5'3" and small framed, I was once a comfortable 120 lbs.  Now I'm not.  Thyroid and everything else checks out fine.  It's just all a vicious spin of turning to food to comfort the depression, being depressed from gaining weight, wasting money on programs like Weight Watchers, Atkins, private nutrionists and not getting any results, going home and starting over comforting with food.  It's not even an overeating thing either, I can stop and limit myself.  Maybe it's my age and metabolism changing (I'm 39) but then again I see women in their 40's and 50's at the gym in great shape.  

I know I'm not alone here and take comfort in reading other's stories here.  No, not comfort in the way that misery loves company.  I pray for each and every one of us here to carry on the best we can in this battle.

Please don't think I feel sorry for myself.  I don't, it doesn't make sense to.  Again I just feel defeated having to go back on meds but then again, what choice do we have?

Avatar universal
I was taking zoloft for 10 years and decided it wasnt working for me anymore.   In the past when I didnt take the meds for a couple days I would get a splitting headache and need to take it asap.   I have now been off of it for a week and taking Wellbutrin.   My doctor said I would be fine switching meds and said that the zoloft would be out oft he body when the wellbutrin started to kick in.. which i just read that zoloft has the shortest half life and is out of your body in a couple days.   Anway   my head feels really weird  i assume this is withdrawl.. although i thought it would be alot worse.. I was just wondering how long this will last???  and if the meds will all get out of my body?? if anyone knows anything about this let me know!  ij sut want to feel normal again.  Thanks
Avatar universal
I have gained 10-15 lbs. since I was on zoloft.  I could never tell if it was my lifestyle or the zoloft.  Now I think it may have been a combo. of the two.  I have always been thin, until now and never had such a hard time losing weight before.  I can't seem to lose any weight.  Now that I am off zoloft, hopefully I can lose some weight.
Avatar universal
Almost six years ago I started on Paxil.  Then psychiatrist added Buspar, then Wellbutrin.  Every drug increase, every drug addition caused headaches and flu-like symptoms.  Depression never went away.  I just felt like a zombie on the Paxil.

Symptoms were the same only worse going off, for each one.  I got off all and crashed.  Doctor put me on Zoloft and Xanax.

I felt AWFUL on Zoloft.  Terrible flu-like symptoms going on and up and worse coming down and off.

Two months AFTER being off Zoloft I continued to have withdrawal symptoms  My last Zoloft dose, and I tapered down slowly, was 8-31-06.

I then had to taper down and go off Xanax (last Xanax dose was yesterday, 12-14-06).  Continuing headaches, twitches, flu-like symptoms.

I have read that this is all withdrawal symptoms.

When I got aff Paxil there were no withdrawal symptoms once I was off.  Now, with Zoloft and Xanax, I still am dealing with withdrawal symptoms.

When I question the psychiatrist, who is not really tuned into me, I am told that Xanax is addicting and Zoloft is not.  Zoloft was the worst drug I have ever been on.  To me, the non-medical person, the side effects from Zoloft withdrawal are much worse than the side effects from Xanax (which, I am told, is an addictive drug).

Also, the psychiatrist is much more concerned about the addicitve qualities of Xanax then she is with actually helping me feel better.  I decided that I would be better off if I could just get off everything.

Avatar universal
hi my dr is tapering me off effexor xr 75 mg where i take zoloft 1/2 a pill the 2nd week then a whole pill of 100 mg the 2nd week of tapering off after im through maybe about a month can i just stop the zoloft all together ? im just wondering i havent started the tapering off yet i start next week .my sister said she stopped cold turkey and she said hers was 150 mg so could i do that once the effexor is out of my body? hes having me take 1 effexor for 2 weeks then 1 effexor every other day the 2nd week along with 1/2 a zoloft then the next week go up to the whole pill of zoloft the next week and the stop the effexor so could i also stop the zoloft too ?
Avatar universal
I have been on Zoloft for almost 6 years (50mg).  I have tried to "wean" myself off this nasty drug 3 times in the past few yrs, each time with no success.  I tapered my dose down each time little by little over a period of weeks, the last time over a month!  You all know how it feels.  Like death is creeping up on you.  I felt so much like I was going to die that I had to go back on Zoloft.  I want to try to go off Zoloft AGAIN.  I am going to make an appointment with a new doctor to see if there are any medications that will help with the withdrawal symptoms.  

Has anyone been prescribed any kind of sedative, like Ativan or something, to help with the w/d symptoms?  I DO NOT want to go on any other kind of anti depressant - I want to be drug free but I am so nervous about going off Zoloft again without some kind of help.  

Avatar universal
I am experiencing the same thing. Bouts of dizziness and I feel like I am fogging out. I went cold turkey, although I think zoloft helped me for the last 6 months, I'm not myself so I'm bailing out on anti-depressants. Never got over 50 mg a day.
Avatar universal
Hey! I am so glad to have found you all.  I have been on Zoloft 50mg.for about a year and half.  I got on it due to the depression.  I had a 4 year old and a baby and was getting way overwhelmed and stressed.  Felt very irritable all the time and just not myself.  Depression had never been an issure for me before this so I am thinking I want to get this drug out of me and see if I can feel "normal" without it.
I had NO idea of the withdrawal symptoms at ALL!! OMG, if I had known this I would have thought twice about taking it.  Or at least asked if ther was anything else available.
I have gained about 10lbs. which I know is from this drug b/c I am very active and eat ok.  
Anyway, I appreciate reading everyone's posts.  I am going to call my doctor and see about going off gradually.  Of course, now that I have heard from everyone hear, I will take what she says with a grain of salt.
My biggest fear is if I go off, I will have those zaps and all those other side effects for months.  I can't go thru that with two little ones.
Thanks for being here!  I will keep you posted.   Any advice about weaning is appreciated.
Avatar universal
It has been about three months that I am off the zoloft now and the withdrawal effects are still as strong as they were at the beginning. I am beginning to wonder if they ever go away. I did not just stop taking it. Actually, I tapered it off under my doctor supervision. I feel this electric zaps every once in a while. It's really annoying. I feel my eyes are moving very fast. Most of the times when I move my eyes, I get the electric shocks. I feel very moody too.

If only I knew about this before taking this terrible drug. I will never take it again though even if the effects do not go away. It's funny how something harmless like marijuana is criminalized and you have to take weird drugs with lots of serious side effect and withdrawal effects that they prescribe for you!

If I could I would really sue the drug company.
Avatar universal
Hi.  After reading all the comments, I decided to post for the first time.  I've also tried unsuccessfully to get off Zoloft after taking 50mg./day for a little over a year.  I started taking Zoloft when I had trouble coping with my oldest child's Asperger Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder) diagnosis, my middle child's explosive temper tantrums, and my youngest's delayed language development.  I could not stop crying--couldn't talk or think about my kids without crying.  Zoloft helped.  I stopped crying.  But I also stopped feeling much of anything, good or bad.  After a year of counseling and support groups and now with my youngest doing much better, I wanted to see how I'd feel and if I could cope without Zoloft. I knew to taper off, but I never expected how intense the withdrawal would be once I went off completely. I can get to about 1/4 of my original dose (taken daily) without many symptoms, but can't get off completely.  I suffered for a about a week, but I was so dizzy and had so many "brain shivers" that I didn't feel safe to drive. Can't have that with 3 kids! So, yesterday, I couldn't stand it anymore and took a 1/4 of a 50mg tablet. Within 2 hours I was pretty much symptom free.  But I still want to get off of this drug!! I've looked at other sites and have seen recommedations for taking Benadryl and Omega 3 fish oil to ease withdrawal symptoms.  Has anyone tried these? I also looked at The Road Back web site.  They have a whole on-line book about getting off antidepressants.  But their main recommendations have to do with taking big doses of "nutritionals" that you should only buy from the vendors they recommend. I'm pretty cynical that kind of sales pitch, but would love to hear if anyone has tried their program.  Good luck and hang in there everyone.
Avatar universal
i am so glad i found this posing.
i did a good long tapering at my doctors suggestion from 200>150>100>50>25>0 and couldn't understand what was happening to me after a few days of discontinuing.
i am angry (well, that's a general state of being at the moment..) that my psychiatrist who insisted on multiple expensive visits "for my medical well being" while on zoloft did not even mention the possibility of this horrible withdrawal.
the past few days i have cancelled plans with friends as i didn't want to pass on the "flu" that i had to them or their kids, cried uncontrollably, freaked out about everything that didn't go the way i hoped, etc.
can someone, anyone, attest to this terrible withdrawal period coming to an end?
any reassurance that this will improve would be like winning the lottery for me.  
Avatar universal
I was starting to think I was completely crazy and pathetic. I decided about a month ago that I would try to swith to Wellbutrin because the Zoloft made me feel tired, unmotivated. lazy etc. I did what I thought was a slow taper from 100mg; I did it over a month while also starting the Wellbutrin xr150mg. I felt pretty good until my last 25mg dose which was about 6 days ago. The my Dr. told me to increase the Wellbutrin to 300mg. The first couple of days I felt kind of "wired" and a little nauseated. By the third day, my emotions were right on the surface. If I merely thought of something sad , I would lose it. I kept disappearing into the bathroom so my husband and kids( yes, 4 of them) wouldn't see me losing it. I feel like  I could barf at any given time. My head feels weird and my vision is a little fuzzy. I feel like I've had a few drinks and have a big f-ing hangover at the same time! I really feel ******. Thank god i don't have that buzzing/zapping thing people are talking about. I haven't cried yet today, so maybe that's progress. If I didn't know better I'd think I was pregnant. But that would require sex...... Any way, I don't want to give up too soon, but I'm so tempted to go to my medicine cabinet and eat a zoloft. I guess I'll restrain myself for now. Did I mention I feel ******?
Avatar universal
Thank goodness I found you all!  I have been off of zolof for 2 1/2 weeks now -- tapered off like I was supposed to...have been taking it for 8 years now -- 50 mg. a day.  Went to 25 mg. - then went everyother day for about 2 weeks.  No am off completely.  I, too, am very disturbed at the dr.s and drug companies for never explaining the withdrawal symptoms.  If I knew how hard this was going to be, I would've thought twice about starting it for anxiety and post-partum after the birth of my 2nd child.

Anyway, I hope this one thing offers a little hope.  The brain "zaps" have stopped, but I still feel dizzy and when I move too fast, it feels like my head didn't go with my body.  It's so unsettling.  This is the 3rd time I've tried to quit.  The first two times, the withdrawal symptoms were so bad I went back on.  I just want to be synthetic free.  

It comforts me to know that I am not alone. We have to stay together and talk....we can do it!  The symptoms of withdrawal just have to stop -- I just know it.  Stay with me....let's do it together.  Never ever give up....(Ok, Im not always this annoying and happy --ha -- believe me -- quite the opposite - -ask my family)...
Avatar universal
hi all, i am having a rotten time coming off zoloft.  i've been on it for about a year and i was tired of feelin chemically induced all the time so i an coming off.  om my god i feel horrible.  the zaps to me are like getting shocked in my face but without the pain or like when you bang your funny bone that boinging feeling, i get that all the time.  i dont have neasea but im soo miserable and mood swings ROTTEN. i have been weening for about a month i hate zoloft bad drug. my eyes and lips are boinging right now  well good luck everyone i hope i make it does anybody know if adavan helps
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