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Jtay1230: Please help, Zoloft withdrawal after 8 years

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Ok so I have no idea how to start this and I'm sure I will forget some things. So here goes... I'm a 20 year old female and when I was 12 I was put on Zoloft for situational depression. I was on it for a total of 8 years and over that period of time I had my medication increased a couple times so I was at 100mg. Then in November (I think) 2016 I decided to get off of it. I weaned myself off over the period of about 3 or 4 weeks. (I think, I don't remember because I thought it would be of little importance). I was doing fine but noticed some anxiety but still felt 100% normal. Then around February 25th 2017 I noticed an increase in anxiety and spoke with my doctor who thought getting back on Zoloft would be the right choice. So I started back on at 25mg. I had severe side effects that I had never experienced before on Zoloft. Depersonalization, nausea, fatigue, random pain, the list goes on. But I tried to stick it out for around 4 days before I realized I couldn't take it anymore, so I stopped taking the medication thinking things would settle down again. Boy was I wrong.. I had so many symptoms such as:
Light headed
Head ache
Head pressure on right side of head (debilitating)
Neck pain
Back pain 
Chest pain
Leg pain 

tendons feel like they're popping 
Teeth clenching

jaw pain

Irrational thought
Lump in throat 
Difficulty swallowing 
Clogged ears (so awful)

ringing in ears (sounds like frequencies)
Panic attacks
Weight loss 

and as of two days ago everytime I try to fall asleep and about to drift off I get this weird sensation in my chest/head but it's not a palpatation, it's almost like a falling or tugging sensation. It's kept me up all hours of the night 
 And The list goes on...

ive been to the ER 3 times now thinking I was dying
So I went to my doctor and he told me it was all anxiety but I knew that couldn't be it so I tried to diagnose myself but I've had all bloodwork done, an MRI, an echocardiogram, and everything was normal. I just can't believe this is anxiety. So I found this website and everything makes sense. I tried to tell my doctor that it could be Zoloft withdrawals but he said that no withdrawals only last a couple weeks and wouldn't listen to me and made me feel crazy. I've lost 40lbs in 3 months because of feeling so awful. I missed school, I cry everyday, no one listens to me anymore, I just can't live another day like this. So my question is, how long will this last? If I started a different medication like lexapro would it help? Or am I too late? I need help and need answers before I actually do go crazy. Please help. 

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Jtay -- Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants (SA)


I'm sorry that you're in this situation. It's outrageous that a psychoactive medication was prescribed for you at age 12 rather than therapy and coaching to develop non-drug coping skills. More recently your doctor should have given MUCH better advice about discontinuing Zoloft.


Your reinstatement of 25 mg Zoloft in late February 2017, after having been off it for 2-3 months, was probably too high for your CNS (central nervous system). I'm not sure what will help now, but am absolutely certain that Lexapro is NOT the answer. Many members here are having difficulty with escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex, etc.) because it is a very strong medication.  I will ask other moderators to review your situation. It make take us several days to come up with a suggested next step for you. 


It will help us help you if you provide a concise list of dates and doses to give an overview of your medication and withdrawal history. A request: Would you summarize your history in a signature -- drugs, doses, dates, and discontinuations & reinstatements, in the last 12-24 months particularly?

  • Any drugs prior to 24 months ago can just be listed with start and stop years.
  • Please use actual dates or approximate dates (mid-June, Late October) rather than relative time frames (last week, 3 months ago)
  • Spell out months, e.g. "October" or "Oct."; 9/1/2016 can be interpreted as Jan. 9, 2016 or Sept. 1, 2016.
  • Please leave out symptoms and diagnoses.
  • A list is easier to understand than one or multiple paragraphs.
  • Link to Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature.


Members have discussed conversations with doctors in these topics:

How do you talk to your doctor about tapering and withdrawal.

What to expect from your doctor about withdrawal symptoms.


Some topics that have ideas that can help with your symptoms:

Non-drug techniques to cope with emotional symptoms.

The Dr. Claire Weekes Method of Recovering from a Sensitized Nervous System.

Change the channel - dealing with cognitive symptoms.

Non-drug techniques for dealing with physical pain.

Depersonalization or derealization (DP/DR).


I wish I could tell you how long your symptoms will last. Unfortunately it may take many months. For inspiration that it can and does get better, you may want to read threads in the Success Stories forum, where people post about having started where you are or worse (if you can believe that!) and coming through it all to feel back to 100%.


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 am glad that you found us.

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Scallywag, I might be open to the idea of trying it again. But it was so bad the last time. I think I would rather stay off medication if possible, but I definitely don't want these withdrawals to be life long. So whatever I have to do I will do.

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Have you read the topic about reinstatement, particularly the first page?


Please create a posting signature as requested above.

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11 hours ago, Jtay1230 said:

no one listens to me anymore, I just can't live another day like this


Jtay - we will listen to you here, and you will persevere through this and get better.


What these doctors did to you and how they do not understand what you are going through is sadly typical, not just here in the US, but around the world. They only know what the drug company reps tell them, and the reps have been trained to say that withdrawal syndrome does not exist.


But it does, and you can recover from it.


The mods here will help you with advise on possible reinstatement, tapering, and so on.


There is a wealth of information to help you cope.


One essential thing to do for your recovery is to build a tool kit that you can draw on to help with symptoms.


The #1 tool in most people's tool kits is mindful breathing:

Step 1- make sure your lungs are empty. Place your hand on the top of your chest and exhale with a sigh.

Step 2 - move your hand to your belly. Breath in slowly and deeply through your nose, making sure that your hand is rising so that you are filling your belly with air. No gasping - just slow and steady.

Step 3 - exhale slowly through your mouth, making sure that your hand is now flattening out with your belly. No whooshing out your breath.


Take at least 3 deep breaths this way.


Here is a nice mp3 that walks you through the breathing, and it also has a bit about how to wrangle in your anxious thoughts: https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk//music/FirstAidPanicF.mp3


That's the first tool in your kit. I don't want to overload you, so I'll be back later with another tool for you to use. But start with mindful breathing.



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Hi Jtay, I am so very sorry to hear that you were drugged at such a young age when your brain was still developing. There is little wonder that you are feeling so awful.


You might find that a very tiny dose helps to ease the withdrawal. If you have zoloft tablets you can make a liquid and get just 0.5mg. It will take a few days to reach a steady level in your body but it could help. This minuscule dose will also test whether you can tolerate it without the reaction you had before.  Here is a link to the topic how to make a liquid. It seems terrifying but is quite simple when you understand the process and becomes second nature eventually. You can make up a batch to last a few days. Many of us tell our doctors that we want to go back on the drug then taper our own way because they haven't a clue! As long as we can get the scripts we can taper how we please until we are off.  




Edited by mammaP

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7 hours ago, scallywag said:

Have you read the topic about reinstatement, particularly the first page?


Please create a posting signature as requested above.

How do I create a posting signature?

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Has anyone else had the "falling" sensation in the chest right before falling asleep? It keeps me up all night. I'm living hell on earth. 

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1 hour ago, Jtay1230 said:

Has anyone else had the "falling" sensation in the chest right before falling asleep? It keeps me up all night. I'm living hell on earth. 


Yes - this happens to me. You can tamp it down with some mindful breathing to regulate your oxygen intake.


Breath in slowly through your nose into your belly. Deep breath into the belly, not shallow into the lungs. Then exhale through your mouth slowly - don;t gasp in the air, don;t whoosh out the air. You can put your hand on your belly to feel the comfort of it rising and falling.


What is keeping you up is your mind going to the secondary fear - the "what the heck is going on, am I ever going to heal, am I dying, etc." thinking. Instead, allow yourself to accept that your body has strange physical sensations during recovery and that what is happening will pass.


Here is cool little mp3 to listen to to help with both the breathing and shutting down the secondary fear: https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk//music/FirstAidPanicF.mp3


Hang in there!



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1 hour ago, scallywag said:

JTay -- Two things:

  1. Did you read the first post in the topic about reinstating? If not, here's the link again:
    About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
  2. What are your thoughts and questions about reinstating?

I think I'm too late to reinstate considering when I tried to I felt even worse. I think unfortunately I'm going to have to ride this out. I'd rather not mess with my nervous system anymore. I'm at a hard place right now but hopefully time will heal!

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Got it.  Reinstate or not, there's no time like the present to start developing non-drug techniques. I listed a handful of related links in a post above. Check 'em out!

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Welcome, Jtay.


When you tried to reinstate Zoloft, you took 25mg.


What we see is that going on and off drugs can make the nervous system very sensitive. Even though you had been taking a higher dosage of Zoloft before you developed withdrawal syndrome, 25mg was too much for your sensitized nervous system.


It's possible that a tiny amount, such at 0.5mg might reduce the withdrawal symptoms without irritating your nervous system.


Other than 0.5mg Zoloft, it's possible 0.5mg Prozac might help. Doctors often switch people to Prozac to help them get off other antidepressants. Sometimes it works, and for some people, it can be easier to quit. Still, you'd stay on 0.5mg Prozac for some months before reducing very, very gradually.


In the U.S., both Zoloft and Prozac come in liquid form so you can take small amounts with an oral syringe. You will need a prescription for either. Your health insurance may or may not cover the liquid form.

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