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ShelbyD: Just Weaned off of Zoloft - Having Weird Withdrawal Symptoms


ShelbyD

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Hi, all. I'm ShelbyD, and I'm really glad to have found this forum. A bit of history: I was diagnosed with panic/anxiety disorder in 1998. From 1998-2000, I was on Zoloft, from 2006-2008 I was on Lexapro, and most recently, from 2012 to this year, I was on Zoloft again. Dosage began at 50mg, then increased to 75mg and finally, 100mg.

 

Maybe because my first two stints on antidepressants were relatively short, I was able to wean off of them successfully and with minimal side effects (weaning off the Lexapro was definitely harder and slower than the Zoloft!) But after having been on Zoloft for 7 years, I've been having a much more difficult time with withdrawals. Under my psychiatrist's supervision, I weaned off over a period of about 5 months, and to be honest, I had very few withdrawal symptoms during that whole time.

 

But on Feb 28/19 (a month ago today), I took my last 12.5mg dose, and it's been a roller coaster ride ever since. Within a few days, and for about two weeks, I had mostly physical symptoms - dizziness, vertigo, restless legs at night, fatigue, wild mood swings, etc. These symptoms were just beginning to improve when my husband (who is a huge support for me when I'm having anxiety) had to go out of town unexpectedly. I was alone for a week, during which time I had a LOT of anxiety, including several full-blown panic attacks -- something I haven't had in years. This past week, the fourth week, hubby is back in town, which has been a comfort. I've also begun seeing a psychologist that I really like. For the most part, I've been feeling quite a bit better, but I've had two disturbing episodes of anxiety/panic this week.

 

Oddly, they both happened while eating at restaurants. Near the end of the meal, I could feel my chest tightening and my heart begin to pound. I felt jittery and anxious and shaky. (Now that I stop and think about it, I do recall this happening more mildly a few times during my weaning process -- but at the time I never connected it to the meds.) I'm perplexed as to why this is happening. There's nothing about dining out that I find particularly stressful - in fact, it's a treat not to have to cook. And I've never had this happen before I began weaning off the Zoloft.

 

I'm wondering if there's something about what I ate or drank (in both cases, caffeinated Diet Coke) that triggered anxiety? I don't consume much caffeine normally, but I usually have a Diet Coke when we dine out. Could my weaning off of Zoloft make me more susceptible to the effects of caffeine? Could that be triggering anxiety?

 

My primary care physician suggests it could be post-meal hypotension -- where blood is diverted to your digestive system after a big meal, lowering your blood pressure to the point where you feel dizzy, jittery, etc. Apparently, this can be caused by dehydration, and I know that Zoloft has made me far more likely to get dehydrated. (I've ended up in the ER twice over the past few years due to dehydration -- something that never happened to me before Zoloft.) But these weird episodes only began since I started weaning off the Zoloft. And why would it only happen at restaurants?  

 

I do have a prescription for Klonopin, and I find that a quarter of a .5mg tablet does help reduce my symptoms. My psychiatrist has suggested taking a quarter tablet each morning for a few weeks while I stabilize post-Zoloft, though I must admit, I haven't been good about taking it daily. Mostly I've just taken it when the withdrawal symptoms have been particularly bad. 

 

But I'd really like to understand what role (if any) weaning off of Zoloft is playing in these strange restaurant experiences. (Do they sound familiar to anyone?) And I'm looking forward to learning more about how to get myself back on track from other forum members.

 

Thanks in advance for any insights or advice you can offer!

 

Shelby

 

 

 

 

ShelbyD

Los Angeles, CA

 

  • Diagnosed with panic/anxiety disorder 1998
  • Zoloft 1998-2000 (supplemented with .125 mg of Klonopin as needed)
  • Lexapro 2006-2008 (weaned off very slowly)
  • Zoloft 100mg 2012-2018
  • Zoloft 75mg Oct 2018/50mg Nov-Dec 2018/25mg Jan 2019/12.5mg Feb 2019
  • Completely Zoloft-free as of February 28, 2019
  • Klonopin .125mg as needed
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  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome to SA, ShelbyD.

 

First, is ShelbyD your real name?  If so, to preserve anonymity,  please select another username, at least four letters and not all-caps.  Let us know and we can make the change.
 
To give members the best information, we ask them to summarize their medication history in a signature -- drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements, in the last 12-24 months particularly.
 
 
Your taper off Zoloft was faster than we recommend, which is what is causing your withdrawal symptoms. We recommend tapering no faster than 10% of current dose every four weeks.
 
 
To help you understand the symptoms you are experiencing, here is some information on withdrawal.  The withdrawal time doesn't necessarily correlate with the time you were on the drug.  These drugs alter the architecture of the brain, and the time necessary to heal the brain and return to homeostasis is, unfortunately, impossible to predict.  
 
 
 
When we take medications, the CNS (central nervous system) responds by making changes over the months and years we take the drug(s). When the medication is discontinued, the CNS has to undo all the changes it made. Rebuilding the neurotransmitter production and reactivating the receptor and transporter cells takes time -- during that rebuilding process symptoms occur.  
 
 
Please be aware that sometime withdrawal symptoms don't appear immediately after a too-fast taper.

 

The symptoms you are experiencing are typical withdrawal symptoms. In the withdrawal, the central nervous system is no longer in equilibrium, and you may experience many strange symptoms.   Regarding your restaurant experiences, it is difficult to say, but the caffeine certainly could be the culprit.  In withdrawal foods (and supplements) that can normally be tolerated can cause symptoms.  I'd advise you eliminate or minimize caffeine.

 

With respect to the Klonopin, I'd strongly advise you not take it on a regular basis.  Benzodiazepines (like Klonopin) only work for 2 - 4 weeks and then we stay on them to stave off withdrawal. Dependency for benzos starts in as little as 2 weeks. 

 

You may want to consider reinstatement of a small dose of Zoloft to help alleviate your withdrawal symptoms.  Reinstatement of a very small dose of the original drug is the only known way to help alleviate withdrawal syndrome.  The only other alternative is to try and wait out the symptoms and manage as best you can until your central nervous system returns to homeostasis.  Unfortunately no one can give you an exact timeline as to when you will start feeling better and while some do recover relatively easily, for others it can take many months or longer.  
 
Reinstatement isn't a guarantee of diminished symptoms for everyone but it's the best tactic available.  You're still in the time period where reinstatement predictably works, up to 3 months after last dose.  We usually suggest a much smaller reinstatement dose than your last dose.  These drugs are strong, and when reinstating it is better to start with a small amount and increase if symptoms remain unbearable. Your system has become sensitized and If you take too much it may be too much for your brain and can cause you become unstable.   Then, once you've stabilized on that dosage, you can begin a 10% per month taper down to zero.  Please read:
 
About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms. -- at least the first page of the topic
 
If reinstatement is something you want to consider, please let us know and we can suggest a dosage, which would likely be no more than 1mg.  Please do not reinstate without contacting us for our suggestion. 
 
We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 

 

 

 

Please research all supplements first and only add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.

This is your introduction topic -- the place for you to ask questions, record symptoms, share your progress, and connect with other members of the SA community.  I hope you’ll find the information in the SA forums helpful for your situation.  I'm sorry that you are in the position that you need the information, but I am glad that you found us.
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg to 1.875mg 1986-2020, two CT's and reinstatements

Nov. 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover to 18.75mg Valium

Feb. 2021, begin 10%/4 week taper of 18.75mg Valium 

End 2021  year 1 of Valium taper at 6mg

End 2022 year 2 of Valium taper at 2.75mg 

End 2023 year 3 of Valium taper at 1mg

Jan. 24, 2024: Hold at 1mg and shift to Imipramine taper.

Taper is 95% complete.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan.-Sept. 2016 tapered to 14.4mg  

March 22, 2022: Begin 10%/4 week taper

Aug. 5, 2022: hold at 9.5mg and shift to Valium taper

Jan. 24, 2024: Resume Imipramine taper.  Current dose as of Feb. 22: 7.6mg

Taper is 90% complete.  

  

Supplements: multiple, quercetin, omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotics, zinc, melatonin .3mg, anti-candida, iron, serrapeptase, nattokinase


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Shelby, 

 

How are you doing? 💚

Been on APs, benzos, ADs and opiates, for chronic pain. Had Akathisia in the past that made me suicidal. Still on Seroquel. 2019:➡️ March10=7.25mg ✔️ April17=7.0✔️ June5=6.75✔️ July14=6.50✔️ Aug28=6.25✔️ Oct10=6.20  ✔️ Oct21=6.0✔️ Dec16=5.80 ✔️ 2020➡️ Jan 21=5.60 ✔️ April2=5.40 ✔️ May29=5.20 ✔️ Aug14= 5.0 ✔️Sep29=4.80✔️2021➡️ Jan31=4.60 mg✔️ April24=4.40mg✔️Jul17=4.30mg ✔️ Aug 28=4.20 ✔️ Oct 11=4.15✔️Nov1=4.10 ✔️ Nov21= 4.05✔️ Dec13= 4mg ✔️2022 ➡️ Jan8=3.95✔️ Jan31=3.90✔️ March2=3.85 ✔️ April4=3.80 ✔️ June16=3.75✔️ July26=3.70✔️ Sep2=3.65✔️ Oct21=3.60 ✔️ Dec8=3.55✔️2023➡️ Jan 26=3.50✔️ March 17=3.45✔️ June12=3.40✔️ July30=3.35✔️ Sep14=3.30✔️ Oct31=3.25✔️This is NOT medical advice.Consult your doctor.

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Hi Shelby, interesting that you have anxiety & panic attacks after eating as this is something i have been dealing with for quite some time during withdrawal. Usually its the evening meal that triggers bad anxiety. It hangs around for half hour to an hour unless i distract myself by playing a video game which seems to get rid of it quicker. I have OCD and obsess about how food different foods are going to affect my mental state like being drugged. No its not a rational thought train but nothing usually is when you have OCD. I don't drink much caffeine any more but to be honest i don't think it made any difference anyway.

Eating during the day isn't usually too bad so its mostly evening meal which is a problem.

Paroxatine - 2004-2006

Effexor XR 75mg 2006 - 2016 (Discontinued Feb 2016) - Withdrawal for 6 months.

Effexor XR 75mg Re-instated June 2017 (Discontinued Dec 2017)

Effexor XR 2-3 mg Re-instated March 10 2018 - 1 day (Didn't work)

Effexor XR 2mg Reinstated (Again) May 11 2018. 6 Beads

July 2018 - 0.0mg of Effexor. Zilch

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