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Zoloft (Sertraline) Withdrawal Symptoms: List + Duration

Have you taken the SSRI antidepressant Zoloft (Sertraline) to help with your depression? Millions of people have taken this antidepressant and many have had success with managing depressive symptoms. However, since the drug doesn’t work for everyone and/or individuals may not want to be on an antidepressant for life, they eventually decide to come off of the drug. Withdrawal from an SSRI (selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor) can be much more difficult than most psychiatrists think.

If you do not know what symptoms to expect, they may catch you off guard and your entire reality may get shook up. For many people, SSRI withdrawal is among the most difficult emotional experiences they will ever have to go through in their lives. For me personally, my withdrawal from Paxil was arguably the toughest thing I’ve ever experienced. It can be very difficult to deal with increased suicidal thoughts, dizziness, fatigue, and all of the withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal may push you to your mental limits – most people would describe it as experiencing “hell on Earth.”

Factors that may influence Zoloft withdrawal:

Many people do not understand why different people have an easier time withdrawing from Zoloft, yet other people struggle. There are various factors that play an important role in determining your recovery time. Although doctors don’t explain this to you, the time span (how long you took your medication), the dosage, your individual physiology, and whether you quit cold turkey vs. conducting a taper – will all play a role in influencing withdrawal. Keep these things in mind as you come off of Zoloft.

1. Time Span

How long did you take Zoloft? Was it for a few months just to get over a depressive bout? Or have you been taking it for years to help treat major depression? In general, it is assumed that the longer you take a certain medication, the more difficult it is going to be to withdraw from it. The shorter duration that you took Zoloft, the easier it should be (in theory) to withdraw from.

2. Dosage (50 mg to 200 mg)

How much Zoloft were you taking? Most people take anywhere from 50 mg to 200 mg per day of this drug. 50 mg is regarded as being the therapeutic level of dose. If you were on a lower dose, it theoretically should be easier to come off of the drug than someone who was taking the maximum prescribed daily dose of 200 mg.

If you were on a larger dose for a longer period of time, it is going to take much more time to taper off of the medication and deal with the withdrawal symptoms than someone who was on it for a shorter period of time at the minimal dose.

3. Physiology

Individual physiology plays a role in determining how fast you recover from withdrawal. If you are pretty resistant to withdrawals from medications, you may not experience many symptoms at all. For some people, the withdrawal process is pretty easy and simple. For other people, the entire process can be a total nightmare. Other individual factors that play a role include: environment, social support, diet, and exercise.

4. Cold turkey vs. tapering

All antidepressant medications should be withdrawn from in a “tapering” manner to help ease withdrawal symptoms. Quitting cold turkey is not advised and may end up doing more harm than good. With a medication like Zoloft, it is better to gradually decrease your dosage over a period of weeks and/or months so that it gives your brain time to readjust itself.

If you quit “cold turkey” with no taper, you are essentially leaving your brain in a state of chaos. It is expecting to be fed a drug, and since it isn’t getting the drug, it is going crazy trying to make up for the lack of serotonin. In order to minimize withdrawal symptoms, it is highly important to do a slow taper from Zoloft.

Note: Most people retain the active ingredient “Sertraline” for up to 6 days and its metabolite desmethylsertraline for over 2 weeks after stopping.  As a result, symptoms may emerge with increased severity within 1-3 weeks after stopping.

Zoloft Withdrawal Symptoms: Extensive List

There are an array of symptoms that you may experience upon discontinuation of Zoloft. Although you may not experience all of the symptoms that are listed below, it is likely that you will experience some. It is important to understand that these withdrawal symptoms are normal and that you are not going totally crazy. When discontinuing any SSRI antidepressant, you may experience very severe symptoms.

  • Anger: Some people experience extreme anger and/or rage at very minor things. Little things may really “set you off” and during the withdrawal, you may have a short fuse. Some people may get angry at the fact that they feel as if they cannot function.
  • Anxiety: Since Zoloft is known to help with both anxiety and depression, coming off of it may increase anxiety to an extreme. While you are on the medication, it is inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin. When you come off of it, there is no reuptake inhibition so you are left with decreased serotonin which may make you extremely anxious.
  • Brain zaps: Some people experience a phenomenon known as “brain zaps.” This makes people feel as though they are getting electrically shocked or “zapped” in the brain by an electrical current. These may last awhile, but they will eventually subside as your brain readjusts itself to functioning without the drug.
  • Confusion: Cognition may be impaired to the point that a person may get confused. Confusion is a common withdrawal symptom along with memory issues. It is especially common if you stopped taking Zoloft “cold turkey.”
  • Cramps: It is very common to get cramps – especially in the abdominal area. You may notice stomach cramps and/or other cramps throughout your body as well. These should go away within a couple of weeks.
  • Crying spells: Many people experience such sadness upon medication withdrawal that they cry a lot. This is a result of significant emotional pain and the person trying to cope with how they are feeling. It is very normal to cry a lot during the withdrawal process.
  • Decreased appetite: For most people, SSRI medications tend to result in an increased appetite. Zoloft may have worked great at helping you eat and/or may have even caused weight gain. When coming off the medication, you may feel like not eating for awhile. Part of this appetite decrease may be a result of increased depression.
  • Depression: Your depression may be worse while withdrawing from Zoloft than before you even started taking the medication. This has to do with your serotonin levels being thrown out of balance as a result of the drug.
  • Depersonalization: It is common to feel unlike yourself and/or depersonalized. You may wonder if you are ever going to feel like your “normal” self again. Depersonalization may make you feel numb, like a zombie, or like an alien has taken over your body. This is just your brain chemistry trying to adapt itself to the withdrawal.
  • Dizziness: Some people report feelings of dizziness for weeks, and in some cases, months after quitting Zoloft. The first couple weeks tend to be the worst in regards to dizziness. You may feel drunk and/or like you have no control over how you are feeling. This is part of drug withdrawal that you should know about.
  • Fatigue: Coming off of an antidepressant may make you feel as though you have chronic fatigue syndrome – that’s how extreme the fatigue is. You may be unable to work out, and may have difficulty just getting through the day. Each step you take may seem as though it’s in slow motion – you just don’t have the energy to work quickly.
  • Flu-like symptoms: For some people the withdrawal feels like they have gotten the flu. They may feel nauseous, achy, bedridden, and be unable to eat. In some cases they may even vomit if the nausea is severe. These extreme symptoms tend to go away after the first couple of weeks.
  • Headaches: A person may feel as though they have a never-ending headache when coming off of Zoloft. This is because their brain is trying to figure out how to react without the drug to stimulate activity. The headaches in combination with the dizziness can make life difficult for awhile.
  • Insomnia: Certain individuals sleep for extended periods of time during withdrawal, while others are so anxious and/or stressed that they are unable to sleep at all. They may stay up well into the night and be so depressed and/or anxious that they cannot sleep.
  • Irritability: Little things may really irritate a person that is withdrawing from Zoloft. They may seem irritable during socialization and may have no desire to be around others. The irritability may build up to an extreme and they may act out with aggression.
  • Memory loss: It has been reported that some people experience memory loss while withdrawing from Zoloft. I experienced this symptom when coming off of a different medication. Just know that although your memory may be lacking right now, it will eventually return to normal – it may take longer than you think though.
  • Mood swings: It is very common to experience mood swings. One minute you might feel as if you are doing okay with the withdrawal, the next minute you may feel extremely depressed. Another minute you may feel extremely angry. Know that the mood swings are associated with your brain trying to readjust itself.
  • Panic attacks: Due to the fact that your serotonin system is dealing with an even greater imbalance upon withdrawal, you may experience sheer panic. This is because the anxiety and stress may feel overwhelming. You are not accustomed to dealing with the way you feel coming off of a medication.
  • Poor concentration: If you feel like your concentration is lacking for school and/or work-related tasks, you are right. Many people report being unable to function after withdrawing from an SSRI. Some people have had to quit their jobs because they were unable to concentrate following their withdrawal. This will eventually return to normal.
  • Sleepiness: Certain people may just feel like sleeping for hours on end. This is because their brain is attempting to stabilize itself without the medication and work out the chemical imbalance that has been created. You may feel extremely sleepy and/or drowsy with no energy while withdrawing – especially in the early stages.
  • Suicidal thoughts: Some people experience worsened depression while coming off of SSRI’s than they did before they first started. Most of these medications have a warning that while on them you may experience suicidal thoughts. These thoughts can increase tenfold when trying to withdraw.
  • Weakness: Your mind and body have been accustomed to a certain drug for an extended period of time. When coming off of it, it is common to experience weakness in your muscles and joints. Since you may feel weak and have no energy, it can make life very difficult.

Zoloft Withdrawal Duration: How Long Does It Last?

There is no clear cut answer here for how long Zoloft withdrawal is going to last. The drug itself will be out of your body in relatively short order, but making a full recovery back to normal body and brain functioning may take an extended period of time. As a general rule of thumb, I suggest that you assume that the readjustment period will last at least 3 months and/or 90 days. Although I have taken Zoloft in my past, I hadn’t been on it long enough to experience a major withdrawal.

Other people have had withdrawals so bad that they have filed lawsuits against the manufacturer of the drug. Perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself during withdrawal is engage in healthy activities. Make sure you are eating healthy, exercising, getting outside, socializing with friends and/or family, and doing the best you can at work or school. Eventually the symptoms will subside and you will fully recover from Zoloft withdrawal.

Understand that upon complete cessation of the drug, Zoloft stays in your system for between 11 and 12 days, with its metabolite “Desmethylsertraline” remaining for an average of 30.25 days.  Variations in individual metabolism could dictate when the withdrawal symptoms become noticeable and/or most severe.  Just realize that the process takes time and you should not expect to be 100% improved overnight – it will likely take weeks and/or months. If you recover sooner than three months – more power to you.

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{ 443 comments… add one }
  • Beth January 26, 2018, 10:35 am

    Long story short. I went through major depression with psychosis. This lasted a year. After my fifth time being hospitalized and after a suicide attempt the doc wanted to do electroconvulsive therapy on me. I agreed because no meds where working. After 15 ECT treatment I was back to life.

    Anyway I have been on ability and zoloft for 2 years. In the last 3 weeks I have quit 200mg of zoloft and 10 MG of abilify. I’m not sure if it too early for withdrawal symptoms but I have only experienced being dizzy for the first week. So anyway whoever is reading this there is always hope I got that plus a little bit of faith.

  • Jacob January 5, 2018, 10:34 pm

    I quit taking sertaline cold turkey about a week ago. I’ve been experiencing withdrawal symptoms pretty severely over the past few days. It’s very uncomfortable, if I resume taking it will I feel better?

    • Anne January 26, 2018, 1:38 am

      You will feel better, but then if you still wish to discontinue you should do so very, very slowly. It can take months but is easier to deal with.

  • Adrian April 13, 2017, 11:45 am

    Thank you for this article. I am on my third day of zero Sertraline after 12 months of 50mg. I have pins and needles in my hands and head – these would set in 36 hours after taking a tablet during my taper off period which was one tablet every other day. It feels like vertigo in my head but it’s not vertigo: I don’t feel nauseous and I don’t have balance problems, but it is just weird and constant.

    I’m leaving work soon (half way through the work day) because I don’t feel well enough to carry on at a desk. I just want my bed! The only thing that worried me about your article was the prospect that this could go on for months. Otherwise I was pleased and grateful to read the article and comments from people who have faced the same process.

  • Tee March 21, 2017, 4:11 pm

    Thank you so much for this article, I knew something wasn’t right! I had been on 50mg of sertraline for about three years and my doctor said it was okay to stop cold turkey, not a good ideal! So went back on for a week tapering off not that it changed anything as far as the symptoms, it’s the zapping feeling that I’m having the most problems with. I do feel a little better knowing that I’m not alone in this! Thanks again for the information!

  • Cheryl March 12, 2017, 12:44 am

    So I have been on Zoloft for about 5 weeks at 12.5 mg and I wanted to wean off. Last week I just skipped a day and was a little anxious but not much. This past Monday I skipped taking it and did not take it all week (5 days in a row). While I was off it I did take 5-HTP a couple of days. Wednesday, and Thursday were bad, Friday was even worse.

    So I decided to go back on 12.5 mg of zoloft today and today was the worst day ever. My muscles in my stomach wont stop contracting and I am so emotional and unable to function. I am having panic attacks frequently and my stomach really hurts as well as a dull headache. I feel like I am losing my mind! I tried benadryl and that did not help as well as GABA and am taking magnesium.

    I also took 0.5 mg of klonopin which I usually take at night to help with sleep and that did not touch it. I finally resorted to taking 150 mg of neurontin which I took some time ago and had to wean off that. I read on a website that if you’ve been off zoloft for less than a week, you should restart at your normal dose for 2 weeks and then cut that in half for 2 weeks, etc. Any advice? Desperate!

  • KG March 1, 2017, 7:52 pm

    I was on Zoloft 50MG for a year then upped it to 100MG for about 4 years. I have been off Zoloft for about 1-2 Months now and feel that I have gotten over the biggest hurdle the “Brain Zap & Dizziness issues”. Wanted to address those issues and what worked for me. (I’m not a doctor and these are my personal experiences that worked for me. Everyone reacts/responds differently.).

    -Brain Zaps: This was a weird one and almost broke me to the point of going back on Zoloft. (I have never been an addict dealing with withdrawals but what I felt getting off Zoloft is how I would imagine it). I would carry around a pill and literally that a nibble out of it as needed. In 30 mins the Zaps would subside to a level that was bearable for me to deal with. After doing that for about a week or two the zaps became mild allowing me to cut out Zoloft completely.

    -Dizziness: I had to call in sick a couple of days because I felt so nauseous. What I did to counteract this was get Acupressure Wrist Bands and wore them daily. I would remove them when I went to sleep since I didn’t have any alignments when I was lying down. I continued this until the dizziness went away.

    Only issues that I am experiencing currently are being on edge all of sudden for no particular reason and insomnia. I’m hoping the insomnia passes as that is my biggest hurdle currently. I go to sleep initially fine around 11 PM, but then I wake up alert and feel the need to exercise around 2-3 AM.

  • Johnny February 26, 2017, 3:13 am

    I hope my wife will come and read these stories. She’s on 100mg and has quite cold-turkey twice in the last 3 months – without telling me. 2 weeks in both times she has had rage episodes where she destroys every relationship in her life (or at least gives it a go).

    It’s like a depression episode on super, super steroids. The first time I made her start taking again and agree to see a psych (which hasn’t happened). This time I’m tempted to try and get her to realize this is a lot of what’s going on and stick through it to not have to take anything again – or anything like this at least.

    I still want her to see a therapist and psych though, she’s not in a good place anyway. My hurdle is getting her to realize that this is real, and everyone in her life isn’t actually a horrible, horrible person. :-/

    • Francine March 1, 2017, 7:54 pm

      OMG! I am so happy also to have found this website. I have been on 100 mg of Zoloft for 15 years!!! I have tried to wean myself off years ago and how I felt was not worth it so I stayed on it since I was raising three children, married and working a full time job,big mistake! I finally found a doctor that is LISTENING to what I have to say and she wanted me off ASAP.

      Started weaning down to 50 mg, 25 mg and now on 12.5 mg and I am still experiencing all of the horrible side effects, including those horrendous brain zaps. I am hanging in there because I know that at some point I will get back to normal. It is SO NICE to see all of the posts, I do not feel alone now. I do know that family support is very important at this time.

      I see that Omega 3 and vitamin B could help me through these side effects? Any other things that can help?

  • Raya Carlton February 23, 2017, 12:40 am

    Hi everyone, I am SO happy I have found this page. I was taking 50mg sertraline/day for just over 7 months, then I went down to 25mg/day until finally finishing the pack and coming off them completely. It’s day 3 and for 3 days I have had these awful “brain zaps” which come on throughout the day and make me feel so faint and dizzy!

    It’s starting to get in the way of my placement (as I’m a student nurse) I’ve started taking omega 3 today and vitamin B… so hopefully this may help. It’s so reassuring to know I’m not the only one. I just don’t know how long I can handle these brain zaps for they’re driving me insane! Does anyone have anymore tips to get rid of these?!

  • Jason February 5, 2017, 7:19 pm

    You are very welcome Shannon. Yes, you will feel very alone, no one, and I mean NO ONE, that has never tried Anti-Depressants can possibly know what you are going through and they will give you the usual drivel of “pull your socks up” or “calm down”, “snap out of it” and other lovely things that are very unhelpful to one suffering the hell of AD withdrawal.

    The worst day for me was day seven of AD discontinuation, I was losing it completely, was horrible. It started getting a bit better slowly, was the best around day 30 but then it started going downhill again until I reached my lowest point around day 75. Others have posted above in this forum and in others online that at 2.5 months they have had to get back on the deadly poisonous Sertraline and other SSRIs.

    Do whatever you have to do to NEVER again get this poison inside your body. This is a long ride unfortunately. I am still experiencing shortness of breath (mostly due to my horrendous acid reflux and gastric symptoms which I believe are side effects of Sertraline (Zoloft) devastating affects on my gastrointestinal tract), acid reflux, palpitations (I can even feel for the first time ever in my entire life over the past few weeks my heart beat in my abdomen from my abdominal aorta!!), tachycardias at night, anxiety, sometimes still panic attacks etc.

    Also, never ever let any ignorant doctor (I find most psychiatrists ignorant and arrogant) tell you that the withdrawal effects are proof you need the antidepressants. I never ever had any panic attack in my entire life until 2 weeks after starting on Paxil (Paroxetine) back in 2006 and it as horrible and completely new to me. I started having panic attacks 1.5 years after starting on Sertraline (it did do its job the first 18 months not a single panic or anxiety attack) but then it started losing its efficacy and I started having withdrawal symptoms even though I had not touched my dose because the brain becomes used to it and that is when doctors want to increase the dose.

    A stupid and FUTILE action as when you reach the highest amount you can safely take, what then? There are so many things that SSRIs screw up in our bodies and brains and it takes so long to correct them when getting off of them. Shannon, persevere and do mild exercise (if you have no underlying other health issues like I have), yoga, tai-chi, acupuncture (this was a life saver for me, it truly works, even if only temporarily sometimes), tui na massage (very good too).

    Take B vitamin complex, MAGNESIUM CHELATE (best ones seem to be Magnesium Glycinate or Lysinate tablets), Taurine (amino acid that is very good for the heart and also known to calm anxiety in the body and brain), L-Theanine (I have had to stop this for now as not sure if it is causing me to have extra heart beats during the day, people with no underlying heart issues should be fine taking it as it increases GABA neurotransmitters in the brain naturally, and is very effective at calming you down with no drowsiness or weird spaced out feelings. You feel “in control” gently, in my opinion works a MILLION TIMES BETTER than any anti-depressant crap out there).

    5HTP (do not take vitamin B6 with it, separate their intake by a few hours), Tryptophan (same as above also do not take Tryptophan with 5HTP, both together depending on dose can potentially cause Serotonin Syndrome, play it safe and take smaller doses and see how you feel), etc. I am continuing to lose a lot of weight, about 400 to 500 grams every single damn day so awaiting my next gastro appointment to see what the heck is going on. I recommend you guys try a complete stool test which in some countries is almost impossible to get through normal social security (NHS here in the UK), as SSRIs seriously interfere with the serotonin receptors in the over 100 million neurons in our gut so all sorts of weird things happen there that doctors completely ignore.

    I will continue to post updates on how I feel and what I am taking, hopefully my weight stabilizes now, it was 76.6 Kg this morning, to think that just 14 months ago I was between 105 and 110 Kg, and if you think “Hey, that is great, healthy”, you have not seen me naked, I look like just skin and bones, losing all my body fat as well as more and more of my muscle… I weigh less now at my 45 years of age than when I was 15 years old… I am worried. Take care.

  • Shannon February 4, 2017, 3:14 am

    Thank you so much for this post! I was on 50mg of Zoloft for a year. After consultation with my doctor, we decided it was okay for me to try coming off. I’ve been off completely for a week now, and let’s just say, I’ve felt EVERY symptom you listed above today alone. It’s been horrible. I hate to see other people also going through these terrible withdrawal symptoms, but I’m glad that I’m not alone. No one seems to understand exactly why I’m acting the way I am, and neither did I until just now! Anyone else feel alone in this journey?

    • Francine March 1, 2017, 8:07 pm

      Shannon, I completely get what you are saying! These side effects are killing me but I want so bad to get off of Zoloft I will get through them, especially now with all of these posts! I am excited to get back to normal, I hope sooner than later.

  • Jason February 1, 2017, 11:26 am

    So, I would like to share my story. Today it is 76 days without Sertraline (Zoloft) in my body. Yet I feel like I am dying each day. I started with tachycardias every single night every single time I woke up, sometimes so bad that I would have to go with an ambulance to the hospital.

    The panic attacks which started with ANTIDEPRESSANTS (authentic POISONS) which I never had before, the continued anxiety, hiatal hernia which I never had before taking these poisons, acid reflux (also new), feeling short of breath (new as well), massive loss of weight of over 30 kg in one single year!! (Also damn new) and through this all NO SUPPORT at all from the medical establishment who can only think in terms of poisons (drugs) or surgeries.

    Not once did any single doctor (neurologists, gastroenterologists, psychiatrists, cardiologists, pulmonologists) ever ask what I eat or how I sleep or symptoms, they just care about their idiotic big pharma indoctrinated “knowledge” and never ever step out of that boundary and never ever do they even acknowledge that simple food or supplements can help! I started taking Taurine yesterday and hoping it will work, turns out it is essential for heart health and can help with anxiety as well, also taking suntheanine (L-Theanine aminoacid, precursor to GABA in the brain) which actually works BETTER than damn anti-depressants, yet they will never ask you to take this, because it has no side effects, they would rather you BUY the sh-t they give you with all its side effects and damaging properties.

    I am sick of Western Medicine. I hate them with all my heart and mind. In my worst moments, a simple NEEDLE from a Chinese acupuncturist has helped calm me down and help me sleep better than ALL OF WESTERN MEDICINE COMBINED! There is so much more I can say about my own experiences, I also experience the anger (more like rage sometimes), the random/phantom itches, nerve ending pain (toes especially), the brain zaps, mind fog, memory loss, anxiety, panic, palpitations, gastric symptoms (I am literally unable to eat anything not cooked properly, and most of my food is now blended otherwise it takes me HOURS to digest anything!! Something that I have never in my entire 45 years of life I experienced before!!).

    All of this caused by BIG PHARMA, they are the devil. I can say with absolute certainty that there is NOT a single case where anti-depressants are needed for anyone. Anything they can do with those poisons, can be done and even better with normal herbal remedies that humans have been using for thousands of years.

    The problem is that they cannot be patented and thus, the only thing they do PEER REVIEWS and studies on are on their POISONOUS DRUGS so that they can rake in the billions and trillions of $$$$$$. For all of you, read about PROTACTED ANTIDEPRESSANT WITHDRAWAL SYNDROME, also known as PAWS. We are all in this for the long haul unfortunately. The symptoms will NOT go away quickly for most of us as these poisons rewire the brain and also cause massive changes in our gut (90% of all our body’s serotonin are made and used in the gut).

    Unfortunately for me, I also suffer from heart arrhythmia issues which means I cannot dismiss my panic attacks and palpitations all the time out of hand as a few times I have had actually a real documented arrhythmia requiring hospital visits and treatment. For those of us who have an underlying physical condition and on top of that have health anxiety which our idiotic doctors prescribed anti-depressants for, I truly sympathize with you and hope we can all one day come back here and relate how we have coped and maybe even solved these health issues.

    I take currently:

    -100mg Suntheanine (this is a life saver!!): it converts into GABA in the brain and helps “calm down” our neurons firing off like crazy. I take it in the morning helps me better than at night.

    -Gastrazyme: take one tablet before each meal. THIS simple tablet has almost made my acid reflux and stomach problems DISAPPEAR! I hardly need to take any antiacid now and I believe it is normalising and healing my stomach. 8 days now on it.

    -Digestive Enzymes: take one before or after a meal, trying to taper it down as if taken daily for a long period it can make the body stop producing its own enzymes so if you take it, take week long breaks.

    -Taurine: very important amino-acid that the body can produce itself but as we age it becomes harder to do so, so supplementation can help. It is ESSENTIAL for heart health and acts as a calming agent for the heart, preventing arrhythmias, tachycardias and also lowers the heart rate! (and bloody naturally too! no side effects!!). It keeps electrolytes stable in the hart tissue. It is also know for helping with anxiety as well and a host of other roles (it is added to sport drinks to counteract the “jittery” feelings caffeine gives you, it is NOT a stimulant).

    -Omega 3 Rx 2 liquid fish oil (with highest concentration of EPA and DHA): this has been the most important supplement I have used to help come off of ZOLOFT. This heals the brain tissues, as most of our brain is made of DHA and EPA is used to lower inflammation in the brain.

    -Milk Thistle: has helped me over the past 10 years when I was diagnosed with fatty liver disease (non-alcoholic) and it reverted my fatty liver (had super high AST, ALT and GGT liver panel results) to a normal liver with normal blood liver panel results and all naturally!!! (my hepatologist at the time laughed in my face when I told him about Milk Thistle, guess the joke is on him!!!). Milk Thistle is very good to detox the liver, to help it do its job and found out recently it helps with digestion too.

    -5-HTP: this is a mixed one, though I believe I was only successful in getting off of Zoloft thanks to this supplement. It converts into SEROTONIN in the brain. Warning! Do NOT take vitamin B6 with 5-HTP as otherwise B6 will make 5HTP into Serotonin in the blood and Serotonin does NOT pass the blood brain barrier! Too much serotonin in the blood can damage your organs especially the heart.

    Too many idiotic supplement companies pack B6 with 5-HTP. Only buy pure 5-HTP and take on an empty stomach hours before and after any B6 intake. (B6 is very important to help heal the brain by the way, so you do need to take it, ideally twice a day but away from the times you take 5 -HTP). I take 5-HTP sometime in the early evening or right before bed time (some hours before or after dinner) and it does help a lot.

    I currently take 50mg of it only, though you can safely take up to 300mg per day. 5-HTP is not to be taken long term though. Tryptophan helps better for the longer term (Tryptophan gets converted into 5-HTP by B6, and 5-HTP gets converted into Serotonin by B6 as well).

    For those of you who say that Tryptophan doesn’t work, check that you are not taking a multivitamin with it, as this may be why. Sorry for the wall of text, I think my experiences and trials/errors in this regard may be of some help to you. All the best!

  • Linda January 24, 2017, 10:57 pm

    4 weeks ago I stopped 100mg after 20years cold turkey. All the symptoms above I was experiencing ON the drug. I feel like a new person! Energy is through the roof and my mind is clear. This drug is evil…

  • JenG January 6, 2017, 4:40 am

    I started Sertraline 150mg (Zoloft) 9 years ago and have been off it for 2 & 1/2 months now. It has been a roller coaster of emotions and pure hell. I’ve had every withdrawal symptom listed except suicidal tendencies. The major symptoms are the anger, sadness, anxiety, crying spells, and I just want to be alone and isolated from the world.

    Many times I almost started taking the med again to just stop these awful feelings of dread. Listening to other peoples’ experiences has been the only thing that has prevented me from restarting the drug. I’m also angry at my MD for not explaining the severe withdrawal sxs that can occur when stopping Sertraline (even when you taper the dose down slowly).

    I’m giving it 1 more week and if things do not change, I will most likely restart the med. I cannot deal with these awful feelings anymore. Is this worth it? I felt better on the drug.

  • Cautiousmomma December 28, 2016, 7:21 pm

    Zoloft was prescribed to our son for ADHD. We were assured there were no serious side effects. My son was in the percentage of people who have a bad reaction. We saw his grades plummet. We saw him withdraw socially. Our lives turned upside down. Instead of stopping this drug the doctors increased it.

    It wasn’t until he was flunking and having feelings of total hopelessness that they listened. The physician wanted us to rapidly decrease from 100 mg but luckily I have pharmacist friends who said that was unsafe. Luckily I found information on the web and pharmacists who I work with that for safety sake to wean this med slow. 10 percent of the previous dose each wean every 10 to 14 days.

    This was even hard on our son. We have weaned from May to end of December from 100 mg to 2 mg and each time we turn this down it has the same vicious symptoms – sadness, fatigue and irritability. It has been a hard year. We will stop the 2 mg next month. It is difficult to see your child go through this.

    I want to acknowledge the drug helps many it is prescribed to but for those who have the side effects this is hell for the patient and their family members. Weaning with elixir is necessary to get the exact 10% of the previous dose amount. I wish anyone weaning to have good support in place and know this is a very difficult med to wean off of and do not administer this for ADHD.

    Why would you give someone who has problems focusing a med that is used for OCD. It helps a person not focus on problems. Somehow this was poorly prescribed and sold to us to help our child. All this drug did was nearly destroyed our child and our family.

  • Elena December 27, 2016, 1:30 am

    Thank you so much for posting this article, and a huge thanks to everyone who answered! I’m having an extremely hard time myself, dealing with Zoloft withdrawals. After taking it for 7 years, I decided to stop because of my liver and spleen enlargement. I started to feel discomfort in my abdominal area, so I did some research online and I found out that meds like Zoloft can cause liver damage.

    I then went to the doctor and made a couple of ultrasounds. I discovered that I have an enlarged spleen and liver steatosis. My doctor said that it is common and that it probably has nothing to do with Zoloft, but I swear that after I stopped taking Zoloft I do not have any pain or bloating in my liver area whatsoever. Also, I was on Zoloft because of major depression and suicidal thoughts.

    When I started off on Zoloft it was a life saver, and it really helped me but in the last year I’ve experienced complete numbness to life. From taking 200 mg, I went down to 100 mg without any withdrawal symptoms except dizziness. In the next three months, I went down from 100 mg to 50 mg and that’s when I found out that I have an enlarged spleen and liver steatosis. I then quit Zoloft cold turkey.

    The first two weeks, I started having extreme dizziness and I felt light headed. In the next two weeks, I had extreme nervousness, fatigue and cry spills. In the second month, I developed anger issues to the point where I fought with my store manager and lost my job. While I was fighting, I was so angry and upset at myself because I couldn’t stop shaking, yelling, cursing and screaming.

    After this accident, my colleagues told me that I wasn’t acting like myself, and that I was usually the peacemaker. I’ve realized that Zoloft withdrawals were really taking a toll on me. I ended up losing my job, and my life turned to hell. What I suffered the most from was extreme anxiety. I linked all of my problems to my Zoloft withdrawals, but the first month passed by and I wasn’t feeling any better.

    The second month passed by, and that’s when I started filling out divorce papers because I was miserable. Not a day passed by where I wasn’t crying or being aggressive towards my family, and feeling sorry for them at the same time. It is the third month now, and my suicidal thoughts have become a lot stronger then when I first started Zoloft 7 years ago.

    This article gave me hope that these withdrawals won’t last forever, and hopefully this will be my last month of going through them. After reading this article, my anxiety dropped and I realized that what I was going through is common and that I’m not going crazy forever as I thought I was. I’m hoping for the better, and I’m trying to stay strong.

    I have advice for people who are thinking about starting Zoloft or not, my advice is to take it if it is extremely necessary, meaning that people who have mild depression or similar issues, should not take it. Other than that, good luck to everyone! God help us all.

  • shelly newman December 14, 2016, 8:12 pm

    I’ve taken antidepressants for almost 30 years. I’ve been on Zoloft for about 10. I was on 100 mlg then I cut it down to 50. Then I took it every other day then every couple of days then none. This was done over the last 2 months. I’ve been completely off for 2 to 3 weeks. I haven’t experienced any side effects other than crying at sad internet stories.

    Not sobbing, just normal sadness. I don’t feel any increase in anxiety, anger, no brain zaps or depression. I am divorced and out of an extremely stressful relationship going on 6 years. I live a quiet, peaceful life. Right now, I’m taking a break from reading a book while listening to uplifting New Age type instrumental music. It calms me and centers me.

    Reading over others withdrawal symptoms scares the heck out of me! I am hoping that I might be one who comes out the other side unscathed. I long to be off all these medications that have been forced on me (and I’ve quit about 4 in the past 3 years) when I think all it was is that I am a highly sensitive person who endured horrific hardships at the hands of others with little support, so fell apart.

    Doctors are so quick to label you. I absolutely distrust them. None of them EVER thought to examine my past or my present situation and to realize that my situations were what was making me crazy. Instead they pushed pills at me. (Better Living Through Chemistry!). If I make it to March 2017 and am still here, I will have my answer. I am hopeful.

  • Ethel December 7, 2016, 5:01 am

    I so appreciate this article and all of you sharing your experiences. OMG, I actually don’t remember how many years I’ve been on this drug and my doctor retired so not sure I can retrace my time. I think it’s been at least five years. I do remember anxiety being severe and preventing me from driving on freeways.

    However I’ve gained at least 20 pounds, had severe post nasal drip, and become an introvert (always tested in the past as an extrovert) but now prefer my own company and prefer to stay home. I’ve been on 50mg. I recently saw an endocrinologist because I swore something had to be wrong with my thyroid since I kept gaining weight and she wanted me to taper off Sertraline and switch to another anti depressant – Wellbutrin.

    Three weeks ago I started breaking the Sertraline in half. Immediately I had vivid dreams. Then started feeling light headed and having headaches. Three days ago I started taking 1/3 of a pill so I’m around 17 mg but of course it’s not cut evenly so the amount varies a bit. I got so dizzy and then nautilus while pulling weeds I came in the house and went straight to bed.

    I missed my granddaughters dance concert! Been feeling “sick” since then but now I realize why! Do you think two weeks on 25 mg was too short a time period and should I go back up or just ride this awful wave? You know we should be told about this when doctors give us advice to get on or off the medication. The endocrinologist wanted me to start Wellbutrin by now, but I’m hoping to get off all of it! Any suggestions?

    • Anne January 4, 2017, 7:09 pm

      Yes, I personally think 2 weeks is too short. Please read my original post from August 2014. It took MONTHS and MONTHS. Then, after the actual withdrawal, it took 18 months to feel normal again. Also, your post caught my attention because you mention driving anxiety.

      Well, I experience that and had my first panic attack (while ON Zoloft by the way) driving on the highway at night in a snowstorm. Yeah, nothing could go wrong there, huh? I didn’t have driving anxiety before this. Well, that was 10 years ago and only in the last months have realized it is a motion sickness disorder and the panic attack was because I thought I was going to throw up while driving 65 MPH, and the anxiety since has been due to worry about having another panic attack!

      I had been trying to cope with long-acting 25 mg Dramamine and half a Xanax, but a month ago tried a regular old 50 mg Dramamine (not long-acting) with 1/2 of a 0.025 mg Xanax and could drive again!!! I understand driving anxiety is caused by different things, but perhaps yours too is motion sickness.

  • Rosalind Curry December 4, 2016, 8:26 pm

    By far it is very difficult. There’s no “3” ways about it. I have had brain surgery, 2 c-sections that required that my stomach stay open for proper healing /blood clots in the process. I have had reconstructive surgeries and the list could go on… but never in my life has my body taken a toll as this. The Zoloft withdrawals are no joke!!!!

    I have been on zoloft for more than 25+years at the highest dose possible. I literally feel like I am going to pass away at any moment. Everyone have their own opinions, and I am only giving what I have experienced. I have another medicine that helps with nerve pain and yet there has been no relief. I wish I could sue. I wish all of us could get together and sue whoever that allow the sale of this product.

    Not only is it addictive, it’s pure poison. I am having to live with my sister, to be there for me because I am suffering so much. I had recently been diagnosed with chronic arthritis in which I have no cartilage in either knee. Plus I have a bulging disc my back. I thought most of the body pain was coming from that.

    But I recently remembered that I am coming off Zoloft too. It’s a triple whammy for me. But, before I lose my mind, I will go back on. I have come so far, but it’s only been a month.

    • Cautiousmomma December 28, 2016, 7:28 pm

      I am so sorry you are experiencing this. I agree, the doctors hand this out like candy.

  • Lori November 29, 2016, 1:29 am

    I was taking 75 MG of Zoloft in the summer months and 100 MG in winter. I was on it for 2.5 years. Starting in July of this year, I began tapering off. Went from 100 to 75 for a month, 75 to 50 for a month, 50 to 25 for a month and then decided even to just do 25 every second day for a whole but seemed to be struggling a bit. I started to wonder if the every second day was a bad idea because I am giving my brain chemicals one day and then not the next.

    So I decided to not take it at all. That was 4 days ago. I don’t seem to have a lot if the symptoms others are describing but I am in terrible physical discomfort. I already have a lot of issues with degenerative disk disease but now I can barely lift my body weight off the couch, bed etc without both weak muscles and severe mechanical pain. Not to mention it is like every muscle in my body has been strained and my skin is super sensitive to the touch.

    It was for these reasons that I decided to look it up online and see if it was withdrawals which seemed unlikely because I tapered off so gradually. Has anyone else experienced anything like this?

  • Diana November 27, 2016, 2:58 am

    I have been on 150mg of zoloft for 17 years. Had I been told that I would have to take it all my life, I never would have started taking it. I have tried to tapper off of it several times over the years but could not make it after about three months I’d have to go back on it because of the dizziness and crying.

    It’s been a few years since I’ve tried. I went on a trip recently and got very off track on taking my meds and had gone about 5 days without any SO I have decided to go ahead and try cold turkey… it has been two weeks and two days so far. As long as I lay here and don’t move… At all… I’m OK.

    But when I move I’m dizzy. I pray I can make it this time. This stuff should NEVER EVER be prescribed without it being fully explained that you will be on it forever and told what it is like to go off of it. I pray I make it this time…

  • Sarah November 27, 2016, 2:13 am

    Omg it’s so beyond good to hear I’m so not alone in this. I took Zoloft 100mg for a year, hated the way it made me feel family and coworkers even pointed out the difference in me. Decided to stop cold turkey… damn bad idea! Hell on earth is right!

    Been a week now and the withdrawal can be unbearable specially the dizziness and bad night sweats and nightmares. It’s great to know I’m not alone in this and there are people who understand exactly how I am feeling!

  • Deni November 26, 2016, 5:42 pm

    I was taking Zoloft 25mg for Fibromyalgia for three years. It hasn’t helped with the pain. I tapered off for one week, every other day per my doctors instructions. These brain zaps lead me to believe my tapering should have lasted longer than one week. They are awful! My doctor wants me to try Cymbalta for pain now. She said to start while tapering off Zoloft but I did not. I’m very hesitant. Wish I could beat this myself.

    • Cautiousmomma December 28, 2016, 7:35 pm

      Taper by 10 percent of previous dose at a minimal rate of every 14 days – this may even be hard. Have your doctor prescribe elixir so you can wean slow and gradually. We weaned every 14 -21 days. Good luck. We as a community need to help others who want to wean off of this med. It is a difficult journey. Keep researching weaning recommendations. The 10 percent wean is the most cautious but there still are some side effects with weaning.

  • Han T November 9, 2016, 10:57 am

    Was on Zoloft for 5 yrs. My first 3 weeks was miserable with suicidal thoughts, terrible anxiety. I thought the doctor gave me wrong meds but the meds took 1 month to kick in. Was great for 100mg then 75, 50 and 5th year could reduce to 25mg twice a week. Went for counseling with counselor for my personal issues and it helped lots. Dr said taper off 25mg to once a week then stop but I couldn’t.

    Was tired, weak, and had insomnia. Took 12.5 mg weekly for 1 month then 6.25 then zero. Fatigue, memory loss, insomnia but much better. Now just taking St. John’s wort capsule once weekly and reduce coffee/ caffeine. Honestly I think the doctor doesn’t know how strong these drugs are… I couldn’t do 25mg to zero…

  • A7 November 7, 2016, 11:05 am

    There is so much helpful information in this article. There are so many helpful comments also. I am planning on going off 100mg within the next month. Taper down to 50mg for 2 weeks and 25 mg for 2 weeks. (Sertraline 100mg).

    I’m planning on going off the alprazolam (0.5mg) gradually also (I can and have taken it up to 3x a day for 2 years). Plan on only taking it at bedtime to help sleep for 2 weeks. Then cut in half for 2 weeks. Then off them. I’m also going without cigarettes (smoke 2 a day) and cutting sugar out of my diet.

    I take “Mega Food” multi vitamins/turmeric/dandelion root/balanced minerals. I also take ACV with a touch of lemon every morning. We do not drink milk (almond milk only occasion). I’m looking for homeopathic suggestions to help make this transition go bit smoother.

    I am going to put 90 days on the wall and count down as I get closer to the “end” of the detox from medications. I am also going to keep a log/journal of feelings, cravings, thoughts, side effects etc.

  • Jennie November 4, 2016, 2:46 pm

    Oh, this withdrawal is worse than coming off hard drugs. I feel so insanely awful it’s ridiculous. Off that list I have all of them. Thankfully I was able to get my refill. I won’t be going off it again, I don’t know if I’d survive. This has been hell on earth.

  • Stephanie October 22, 2016, 6:08 pm

    My motivation in researching SSRI withdrawal stems from my own recent decision to taper off. And I was puzzled by a consuming rage that has come over me. Anger is too mild a discription of this emotion. I scare myself. I may scare others. I want off of Zoloft, but this rage is causing me some serious trepidation regarding my decision. I am experiencing no other symptoms that I feel I can’t successfully cope with, just the rage challenge. Yes, I am dizzy and have some trouble sleeping. But I was blaming Zoloft for causing me to sleep too much while taking it.

    • Stephanie October 22, 2016, 6:15 pm

      It is worth noting that I wondered if the rage was a symptom of withdrawal because it is a foreign emotion, which is how I ended up in this discussion board.

  • Roy October 17, 2016, 11:25 pm

    Well it’s been nearly 5 months without zoloft and I am thinking I will go back on it so that I can function. Maybe when things are a little better I will try again but it has gotten to the point of not wanting to do anything but sleep since nothing brings me joy. Suicidal thoughts are coming back. I just moved across the country away from all my friends and family (little that I do have). I only have one friend out here and no job. Too anxious and depressed to make friends. I have tried 5HTP, Tryptophan, Fish oil, vitamins, MCT Oil, and CBD/THC with no success. This is the most turbulent time in my last 8 years on Zoloft but hoped that I would’ve started to stabilize by now.

    • Stephanie October 22, 2016, 6:10 pm

      I sympathize with your experience. This sucks. I wish you well in your efforts.

  • Michaela September 29, 2016, 8:39 pm

    Thank you for your story, it helps hearing people’s different experiences. I was on 100mg for about a year, one day, when my son was only 8 weeks old I felt like I didn’t need it so much anymore… so I cut down to 50mg. I had no side-effects that I can think of, but I was a new mom so was probably fairly messed up already. I continued on 50mg for a further year until last week, when I just wanted to stop all medication.

    Simply because I am the happiest I have ever been and feel I do not need these drugs anymore. Stupid move. I had no idea about discontinuation symptoms. I have been feeling like I’m carsick for the last 4 days. It gets worse in the afternoons along with dizzy spells. I also have the sensation of a hair in my throat, which makes me gag all the time. That said, I feel like I am on a real creative burst. (I am a designer).

    It’s like creatively a fog has lifted. I am really of 2 minds as to if I should go back on a lower dose to ease the symptoms or try to ride it out. I am of course, worried there will be further symptoms in the up-coming weeks. I really should have consulted my doctor before hand. But she annoys me.

    Especially because the last time I saw her I was almost full term with my baby, and she said had she known I was pregnant she would have worked with me to lower the dose. (I told her when I was pregnant per her instruction when she initially prescribed them to me during IVF) Anyway… thanks for sharing people, it helps. Michaela

  • Kathy September 23, 2016, 11:53 pm

    This information was so helpful. I’m gradually reducing Zoloft under the guidance of my doctor, and was wondering why I was so tired. My doctor has put me on a natural pyrrole compound to address my high copper/low zinc levels and my anxiety has all but disappeared. Proceeding however, with caution.

    • scatty September 24, 2016, 1:20 pm

      Hi been on 200mg for 8 years, reduced by 50mg per week as advised by Psychiatrist. Personally thought it was too fast a reduction schedule, but I stuck to it as decided I preferred not to draw it out. “Discontinuation symptoms” were not bad until I got to 100mg daily. It got more difficult after that… with symptoms of intense anxiety (fight more than flight!), sleeplessness, poor appetite, irritability, and feelings of overwhelming sadness.

      I am just starting to recover, four weeks after quitting. Glad I stopped now, convinced Sertraline/Zoloft were caused me fatigue. Don’t get me wrong I rate this antidepressant, it worked for me. I tried to reduce, a couple of years ago, but my depression returned, but not this time, so far… so good.

  • MikeH September 19, 2016, 5:42 pm

    I’m 66 and was on 200mg of Sertraline for a little more than 16 years. The history of specifics and why is academic it’s the road I’m on that’s important. I quite cold turkey about 10 days ago and expected to have depression and mood swing issues but not the physical reactions, i.e. ear ringing, week long headaches, increased blood pressure and the brain blasts someone talked about in here. It’s comforting to learn what I’m experiencing is normal but not to hear about the length of time I can expect. Any feedback as to the time I can look to see a turn would be helpful.

  • Stacy September 18, 2016, 7:04 pm

    I was on 25 mg Zoloft for a year. I stopped cold turkey about a week ago. The side effects haven’t been too bad. The first couple of days I had a headache on the left side of my head. I’ve had some dizziness and strange pains in my stomach and maybe a little anxiety coming on in the evening. I have been very tired maybe a little irritable.

    After reading this post I am wondering if things are going to get worse before they get better. I am really, really hoping not to have the anger and sadness issues people speak of. I think I fear those and the anxiety the most. I guess we shall see what happens. Thanks for all the comments. I appreciate being able to read these articles and others experiences to know what to look for.

  • Kwazi September 13, 2016, 11:22 am

    Hi guys. So I was in the process of tapering, a day in actually. I had been taking 75mg for about a year and a bit. I can’t really remember. So I lost my zoloft and am pretty much in cold turkey mode. It’s been 5+ days and I’m dizzy AF. I guess I gave a lot to look forward to since my psychiatrist hasn’t returned any of my calls. Thanks for the post. At least I know what to expect now. K

  • Leia Blake September 12, 2016, 1:45 pm

    I was prescribed Zoloft in the month of November 2015 by my psychiatrist who I would now send to hell myself if I could. None of these prescribing doctors have ever taking any of these medications nor would they ever… so there is no way that they could possibly understand how intensely horrific the experience is that these medications can provide. The only reason I agreed to take this medication particularly was because I became pregnant in October 2015 and I was told that this was the best medication to take during pregnancy because it affects the fetus the least.

    I was severely depressed. Never again will I ever take a pharmaceutical after this experience. EVER. The withdrawal symptoms have been WORSE than Hell on Earth. The bouts of anger I have experienced since beginning this medication have been the worst I have ever experienced in my life, nearly destroying my family on a weekly basis.

    The only reason my family is still whole is because of my husband’s deep understanding and true love. My bouts of anger were so damn intense and so invincibly strong that I could not let it go. Previous to this medication RARELY would I even get angry. I was taking 75mg within a month. This dose created a zombie in EVERY way imaginable.

    I was unable to stay awake for more than 5 hours a day. Getting showered, let alone getting dressed was such a task… that I only did it about once or twice a week. In addition to this, I was completely robbed of my sex drive. My sexy husband whom I am so in love with and head over heels for was not longer able to turn me on.

    I could NOT get sexually excited nor could I even be stimulated. To top it all off, I had become an emotional zombie. I had no more emotions such as love, compassion or care. Nothing could phase me. I probably could have murdered someone or something and have felt nothing, not even a slight of regret. THAT is how terrifyingly horrible this medication is.

    I am so angry at how much I’ve been used by these pharmaceutical companies to line their pockets. It puts me in an absolute rage. Never again will I touch a drug for my “chemical imbalance”. I was better off BEFORE I ever took ANY of these bipolar medications. As the patient, you MUST realize that ultimately YOU have the last say as to whether or not you want to accept their wolf-in-a-sheep’s-clothing-pill.

    Realize that they will try and try and try to convince you that you NEED it and that YOU ARE NOT OKAY without it. They will give you every excuse and reason in the book as to why you need to take their pills. But what you must realize is that ultimately you are the only one that can agree to accept their “medication” and that ultimately you have the last word and final say as to whether or not to accept.

    All I can do is urge you to research before you agree to any of this pharmaceutical bullsh-t… for your own sake, sanity and health.

  • Taylor September 11, 2016, 2:12 am

    Hello, I am 29 yrs old white male 235 lbs. 5’8 and I have been on 300mg of this wonderful stuff for the last 12 years. In the last two years I put on 40lbs. I tried about a year ago stepping down to 250mg but gave up. I tried a few times to quit cold turkey, not a good idea. I have trouble sleeping and when I can’t sleep I go to work.

    I work for myself and it’s not uncommon for me to work 30-36 hrs strait with lets say two 15 min naps and still having a hard time falling asleep. So after the last day and a half with not being able to go to sleep I went to my new doctor. He did some checks all was ok until he did my reflexes. When he hit my knew with the hammer I jumped so bad that I knocked the instruments off of the wall behind me.

    He said “WOW”. He then said I have never seen any one this bad. So then he went and got an older doc who said the same thing. That made me feel special. At that point we made a plan to step me down off of the Zoloft. That was about 3 weeks ago. Went down to 250mg for two weeks and I have my good days and my bad days.

    Yesterday I started on the 200mg. And I’m wondering how bad is it going to get. I did not find anyone who was trying to come off of the extremely high dosage 300mg and the length of time 12 years that I’ve been taking it for. Any advice? Thanks.

    • Anne September 18, 2016, 12:44 am

      My story is far, far above and it is now 2 years since I stopped. At about 1 1/2 years I really felt back to normal, so it is definitely a long haul….for most people. I was talking to a woman a few weeks ago who can stop cold turkey whenever she wants and has no ill effects. Let’s hope you are one of those! But, if I can restate my own experience (read it above from 2014) my success after several attempts was to taper SUPER SUPER slowly….just ridiculously slow.

      Much more slowly than any doctor would even think of. Also, I kept a supply on hand for a long time after stopping so that I knew it was there if I needed it. Otherwise, I would obsess about how quickly I could get some. Then there were times when I would really crave some (because I believe it is addictive) and would take a nib of it (it probably amounted to 3 mg – NOT 30….3) and my body must have recognized and said “good, you fed me my habit” and that would be fine.

      If I had to do that once a week I did it…eventually I didn’t need it at all in terms of drug withdrawal. Now, the reordering of your brain, yeah – that took the 1 1/2 years but at least the brain zaps etc don’t go on that long. So good luck. There’s plenty of good advise in this thread.

    • Cautiousmomma December 28, 2016, 7:41 pm

      Wean by 10 percent of previous dose every 14-21 days. You may need elixir to do it precisely. Good luck. Very difficult drug to wean from for some.

  • Dianne September 9, 2016, 1:07 pm

    I’ve been on sertraline for 20 years and am currently in my third attempt at stopping it. I believe I’ll succeed this time because I’m in a very good place psychologically, but mostly because of what I learned during my two previous withdrawal attempts. The main thing is PATIENCE. Getting off this nasty drug will take a long time and you can’t rush it.

    Here’s what I’m doing:

    I’m reducing my dosage it by 30-50% each time. I’ve learned to stay at each new dosage until I feel absolutely no withdrawal symptoms for about 10 days before cutting back again. (This gives the brain time to fully adjust to the change in serotonin levels). My withdrawal symptoms take about 5 days to begin, then 10-14 days to dissipate. Add the 10 days of “brain rest,” and I have a total time on each step of about 29 days.

    I started 150 mg per day, so the entire process will take about 174 days or 5-6 months. That sounds like an awfully long time but that’s where PATIENCE comes in. If I rush it like I did before, I won’t be successful. And I am determined to win this battle! Hope this helps someone.

    • Stephanie October 22, 2016, 6:20 pm

      Thanks! You are giving me some hope!

  • Bella August 30, 2016, 7:39 am

    Stopping antidepressants cold turkey can be very dangerous. Correct me if I’m mistaken. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist for directions. You don’t want to put your life on the line. I was on Zoloft for about 4 months for depression and panic attacks. But, it was knocking me out, so I told the doctor I wanted to taper off. She agreed, so I went from about 50mg (my max dose) to 25, then to 12mg, over about 2-3 weeks.

    At 12mg, my brain started going on ‘vacation’ or taking ‘detours’. It showed up in my writing and typing. Words were missing, or misspelled, or there were words present I hadn’t even thought of. (about 5-8 errors per page) That’s not typical for me. I’ve been off Zoloft for about 1.5 weeks(?). I’m still pretty tired. And I’m fit to be tied. Seriously. Someone lock me up till this stuff is out of my system.

  • Roy August 19, 2016, 9:08 pm

    2.5 months of no Zoloft after being on and off it half my life. I have since picked up and drove across country to start a new life. I have been extremely stressed the last 30 days of travel and trying to find places to live, etc.. My go to response to any situation is anger. I feel like the withdrawal should be gone by now. Aside from anger nothing excites me and I just feel like sleeping all day. Been taking 5-HTP for a week but no results yet. Any suggestions?

  • PeteM August 17, 2016, 7:59 pm

    What a timely post to discover. After a chat with my doctor I’ve been slowly weaning myself off Zoloft over the past month, having been on 100mg/day for the past five years or so. I came down to 50mg for 1 week, then 25mg for 1 week and then nothing for the last 2 weeks. While I haven’t experienced all of the listed symptoms, I have certainly felt more than half – constant headaches, increased anxiousness, shivers, stomach cramps and loss of appetite are the main ones for me. It’s been tough, still is, and I’ve seriously contemplated dosing back up again. But I’ve stuck with it. Looking forward to coming out the ‘other side’, hopefully sooner rather than later.

  • William crouthamel August 10, 2016, 6:50 pm

    Thank you so much for your work on this report and blog – so helpful and focused on what is like for a person to live through and experience this withdrawal. Truly a contribution to the person and their family going experiencing it. Thanks!

  • Amanda August 5, 2016, 8:42 pm

    I have recently tapered off of Zoloft 25. I had gained weight since I started in Jan. I worked to hard to lose my weight after Effexor (stopped it in 09) to mess with it again. I have tapered to half the tablet every night for the past 3 weeks now. My next step will be to split the half (in half) for another few weeks.

    I will honestly say this has been an ok transition in my case. Slight fatigue and not much of an appetite are the main issues. I tried to quit cold turkey on Effexor and was sick as a dog for over a month. After this Zoloft is through…never again. I will deal with my anxiety in other ways.

  • Saskia August 4, 2016, 9:09 pm

    I was taking this medication for around 6 months and decided to stop around 1.5 months ago – I didn’t go completely cold turkey but I didn’t taper very consistently or responsibly either… just took half of my 50mg tablet for a few days and one quarter for about a week. I thought as I was on the lower dose and only for half a year that it wasn’t so important to come off slowly.

    Now a month and a half after stopping, with not really any noticeable side effects at first (I have been pre-occupied and am going through lots of positive environmental changes though). The last couple of weeks I’ve been almost constantly hot and sweating, very lightheaded and dizzy as well as suffering with headaches. I also had some numbness in my wrists and pins and needles more often. My memory has been a problem and i’m still feeling quite dopey (although a little more back in reality).

    I do hope to stabilize and be free of these feelings soon! I’m really glad I found this article and comments to reassure me that the withdrawal symptoms are real and wish everyone going through whatever troubles they may be with mental health and the side effects of medications such as Zoloft (Sertraline) all the very best.

  • Susan July 26, 2016, 6:20 pm

    Doctors will always tell you what the normal reaction is, however everybody is different. I would suggest to everyone that is suffering, keep that in mind. Please trust your instincts and your body. If you don’t feel well and doctors say, “Withdrawal should only last one week,” but you are three weeks in, trust yourself. You may just have a different reaction time and healing rate than most people. May everybody heal as quickly as possible.

  • John J July 20, 2016, 12:20 pm

    I have taken Zoloft several different times in the past 10 years and had to stop at 3-4 months because of the extreme fatigue (bedridden). I do a fairly quick taper and from reading other post I feel very fortunate. I never noticed any side effects other than the pure joy of not being so sluggish I cant get out of bed. I have tried many SSRI’s and Zoloft is the only one that has helped. When I experience severe depression I take Zoloft until the fatigue starts and taper off again.

  • Margaret July 20, 2016, 8:31 am

    I was put on Zoloft by a psychiatrist when another antidepressant made me very jittery. I only lasted on it for 2 weeks at 50mg as it didn’t help either. Had bad headaches & was more emotional. I took 25mg for a few days and then stopped.

    Have been off it for 1 week and am feeling awful. Stomach cramps, headaches, weepy at times and have tingling in hands and feet. Any advice on whether these are withdrawal symptoms after such a short time on the meds? I’m confused. Thought I’d be starting to feel better by now. Am I too impatient?

    • Saskia August 4, 2016, 9:16 pm

      From my experience I find this to be a pretty strong med with withdrawal symptoms that could well last longer than expected. Your symptoms sound similar to mine, but I was on the 50mg for 6 months. I’ve been off for 6 weeks and still getting some headaches and tingling. I’m sorry I can’t really advise, it’s now been another week or so after you posted, are you feeling better now?

  • Carina Hooper July 18, 2016, 12:37 pm

    I can’t understand why I get withdrawals after missing just one dose. Is my mind playing tricks on me? My main symptom is like having the flu. For years, I’ve been told that it doesn’t happen like that, but it happens anyway and it doesn’t matter how long I’ve been taking it. I just don’t understand.

    • John J July 20, 2016, 12:25 pm

      Carina, I haven’t experienced that but ANY medication is different from one person to the next. I would be very careful not to miss a dose if I felt that way regardless if it was a coincidence.

    • Joe July 24, 2016, 6:13 pm

      I’d been on Zoloft about a year when I forgot my dose one morning. The next day I had really bad brain zaps. I then figured out that for me, this was typical. The worse part was realizing in the evening that I’d forgotten my morning dose, knowing that the next day I’d get brain zaps.

      After two years, I started getting the flu-like symptoms even when not missing any doses. After months of that, I finally had enough. I tapered off and have now been “dry” for two weeks. Oddly, for the first four days or so I was fine and thought that I was lucky; then several of the symptoms above slammed me and have kept up for the past ten days.

      The worst are the brain zaps. I wish I’d never started this drug (or at least my doctor had warned me of ALL the symptoms. He did go on and on about the sexual side-effects, but they never happened to me, just most of the rest.)

  • Rebecca July 16, 2016, 5:35 am

    This is a great discussion, I am so glad I found this. I Just started reading about Zoloft withdrawal as I stopped cold turkey on my doctors request. I was on 100 mg for about 6 months, and 50 mg for 3 months before that. I started it due to my therapist’s recommendation after getting out of a ten-year abusive relationship. I was diagnosed with complex PTSD from the abuse and was hitting an emotional bottom I could not pull myself out of. Thank god for my therapist, my friends and family. I will never enter an abusive relationship of any kind again.

    When I started Zoloft, I had no need for sleep. I could literally go off of three hours of sleep like it was 9 hours. One day I was hitting a deadline for work and stayed awake 22 hours like it was nothing. I started joking that I was on Zo-meth but really started working on my sleep hygiene. My doctor said it would pass and it got better. I would sometimes have light headedness or dizzy spells, particularly if I worked out hard.

    I had terrible heartburn, it was waking me in the middle of the night and I felt like I could breathe fire. I didn’t realize that was a Zoloft side effect I thought it was related to stress and trauma. I took Prilosec and it helped. The reason I stuck with Zoloft was because I had a terrible reaction to cymbalta and these side effects were nothing compared to that experience.

    The Zoloft did help me significantly. Overall Zoloft stabilized my emotional loss and the PTSD. I also had diarrhea every morning for the first three months and lost ten pounds, then in the last three months I gained 15 and continued to pack it on like my body was preparing to survive the next ice age. Since I work as a personal trainer, own a fitness gym and teach fitness, weight gain is a major career obstacle.

    Normally I don’t track my weight I think it’s mentally unhealthy. I simply try to eat healthy and stay active to feel healthy. I noticed the weight gain when my clothes were not fitting well. I was eating very healthy and had to start daily double workouts to try to lose the weight. I wasn’t doing a little yoga, I was doing hard HIIT workouts, MMA kickboxing private lessons, weight lifting, mountain biking, trail running and expert level Aerial fitness and eating lettuce.

    It finally dawned on me it was the Zoloft. My doctor cut me off of Zoloft cold turkey, My doctor said I was on a low dose but I have definitely had withdrawals and I knew I would. Within the first week, I had crazy PTSD-related dreams, a spike in anger, sweating and hot flashes, a terrible headache, sleeplessness or light sleep, stomach cramps, diarrhea, dizziness, fatigue, emotional rawness and crying spells.

    I knew this would happen so I mitigated with acupuncture twice in the first week off and a massage. I have continued to workout and I am not having any alcohol. The Acupuncture worked wonders. I am sleeping well for the first time in a long time, it stopped the dreams, and sped up my metabolism, stopped the acid reflux, stabilized my mood and helped flush the Zoloft out. As with most medicine, natural or not, it has to be done consistently so I am hitting up the Acupuncture twice a week.

    I did go on turmeric, dong quai, B-12, and 5-htp. Doing ok, but going to keep up the body work, therapy and Acupuncture. I don’t really want to go on another anti-depressant and from several studies it appears that cold turkey stopping an SSRI can mean that getting back on one leads to limited effectiveness. There are newer drugs in different families that supposedly are better to switch too, like celexa and lexapro.

    I don’t know if naturopathic is the way to go, but I am going to try. Really appreciated hearing all the experiences on the subject. It was helpful.

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