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Annazoloft: weaning off Zoloft / sertraline


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Hi there everybody,

     I was put on 50 mg Zoloft two years ago for situational depression following a traumatic development in my family. I was upped to 100 mg a few months later. I complained of panic attacks (no prior history) and was switched to Lexapro. I filled the prescription but just thought "to hell with all these pills" and quit cold turkey. I experienced tiredness, some light headedness and brain zaps. I had no idea what they were or why I was having them until I eventually had the presence of mind to google if there were any side effects associated with discontinuing Setraline. I had some symptoms for a couple of months, the first three weeks or so being the worst. I was functional. I ended up going back on 50 and then 100 mg of Zoloft about six months later and was probably on it close to another year. I had a pretty serious episode of depression for a couple weeks (again, not out of the blue but triggered by some serious family stuff related to the initial trauma). When I came out of it I decided to try going off Setraline since it wasn't treating my depression effectively anyway.

       Following development of the initial situational depression (and PTSD?) I started self medicating with alcohol. That could have had something to do with the panic attacks, but in retrospect I think the Zoloft probably played a roll. I was and am in treatment, but continued to have an on and off pattern of alcohol use for some time. My desire to do anything in my power to address this issue was the main reason I went back on Setraline. I also felt guilty for "self prescribing" myself off of them. It's been almost six months since I've abused alcohol, and in July (following the depression) I decided to try going off of antidepressants. Surprisingly, my doctor rejected it out of hand. I've had a second conversation with her where I told her I'd made up my mind to continue to tapper off. I complained of headaches. Her attitude was like "Setraline is prescribed for headaches. You should just take your meds or stop complaining." When I first started my tapper I cut the dose by half. I had brain zaps and debilitating exhaustion and headaches. I've adopted a much slower tapper and am now, over two months later, at approximately 25mg. I have good days and bad. Fortunately, I don't have anxiety, depressions (although being exhausted and in pain is pretty effing depressing), or intrusive thoughts. Some of y'all are really going through it. I do have tension, jaw clenching, headaches, really really bad headaches sometimes, restless leg, muscle aches, muscle weakness, dizziness, lack of coordination, exhaustion, brain fog, some insomnia, weird dreams and bad dreams. And lack of appetite. And twitches sometimes, especially when I'm resting. There's more to say about my interactions with doctors. More than anything I am angry and flabbergasted that there was NO discussion or information given to me prior to using these meds about Setraline discontinuation syndrome. There was no discussion about how long it would be appropriate to be on these meds, and it is apparent that the doctors are trained to permanently treat for psychological symptoms that result from temporary circumstances/ trauma. It's SO MESSED UP.

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  • ChessieCat changed the title to Annazoloft: weaning off Zoloft / sertraline
  • Moderator Emeritus

Welcome to SA, Annazoloft.


These drugs were never meant to be taken permanently, nor were they tested for long-term use, but as you say, that's how they're being prescribed.  I recommend Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker for a eye-opening investigation of this situation.  The fact that you were given no information about withdrawal is typical and not surprising, since the vast majority of doctors (who get their information from big pharma) don't even believe in withdrawal.


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.
We recommend tapering no faster than 10% of current dose every four weeks.  
Your initial taper of 50% and your current taper of around 25% (even spread over two months) is a lot for your system to deal with, since it's accommodated itself to having the drug, and would account for the withdrawal symptoms you're experiencing.  The symptoms you describe are very typical.  You might want to wait a few months before continuing your taper, holding at your current dose, to let these symptoms subside.
When we take psychiatric 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.  
This link is specifically about tapering Zoloft and contains information about how to get the nonstandard doses you'll need for a 10% taper.  Cutting pills isn't the best way to taper, since, especially as you get lower and lower in dose, it's difficult to get consistent and accurate dosages.  Zoloft comes in a prescription liquid, and this is the easiest way to taper.  Although it doesn't sound as if you'll have much luck with your psychiatrist getting a prescription, any M.D. can prescribe liquid Zoloft.  The link also describes other methods to taper.  If you do switch from tablet to liquid, we recommend a gradual crossover.
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. 
Add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.
This is your Introduction topic, where you can ask questions and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.











Edited by Gridley

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 May 2: 6.1mg

Taper is 92% complete.  


Supplements: multiple, quercetin, omega-3, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg, 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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Welcome to SA Annazoloft. I believe you will find a lot of help here. I wish you success!

Paxil  07/1997 - 10/1998 Quit CT  

Neurontin, topamax, trazadone,  ssri AD (don't remember which one) 12/1998 - 06/1999 CT everything

Eflexor Xanax  04/2000 -08/2000 CT  ***01/2008-05/2013 on/off lexapro, lamictalseroquelsaphris, pristiq  Start/Stop CT at intervals 

Zoloft 200 mg 07/2013  WD 04/3/20 - 04/8/20 Quit

Seroquel 800 mg 07/2013 2013 *400 mg 07/2019  *** WD 04/15/2020 - 06/19/20 Quit

Ambien 10 mg 07/2013  WD 5 mg 04/29/2020, 2.5 mg 12/24/20, 1.66 mg 01/21/2021, 1.25 mg 02/16/2021 *** 02/22/2021 Quit

Xanax  2 mg prn 07/2013 - 04/23/20 Quit CT

Lamictal 150 mg 07/2013 WD 05/06/20 -06/11/2020 Quit

Propranolol 03/21/2020 - 04/20/2020 Quit CT

Hydroxyzine  12/14/2020 - 12/27/20 Quit

Allegra 24 hr 01/11/21 Flonase Nasal Spray 01/11/21

Magnesium Glycinate 100mg x3 daily D3 5000iu daily 

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  • 3 months later...
  • Administrator

Hello, @Annazoloft How are you doing?


This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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I have been off Zoloft since early December after about a month at 12 mg. It's been my most difficult cycle of withdrawal symptoms since I tried to go from 100 to 50, and backed up to 80 mg. I have a history of mild whip lash and I'm prone to stiff necks. I also have a two year old, so that doesn't help. This week I've had really bad neck, shoulder and back muscle pain and tension that is slow to resolve. I just wonder if SWS has anything to do with it. I'm tired and have a blunt headache with ocular pressure, which is certainly from discontinuation. I'm hanging in there! Thanks for asking. I talked to another doctor about my shoulder pain, and discussed my situation at the same time. She told me if I have any history of depression the literature supports that I should take SRIs for the rest of my life and that I'm tired because I have kids. Who created these robot clone doctors and what did they do with the real people that listen to their patients? 

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Also: I was frustrated with trying to get my pills in solution and drink my dose. It didn't seem accurate and was gross. I was denied liquid setraline. If I could go back I'd keep asking different doctors for it, or at least try to tapper a little longer. I just want to be done! At this point I don't know if it makes any sense to try and go on a low dose again, but maybe my psychological resistance and stubbornness is a factor here. 

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