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fairygirl

Hello everyone! I don't know if I've ever done a true introduction or not. Some of this is in my signature, but I will elaborate here. I started Zoloft 25 mg Dec. 2009, age 19, for panic attacks and depression. I have struggled with both of those since I was 10, to the point that my normal life was severely hindered. I was blessed to have a supportive family and uneventful childhood. I believe some of us are just wired to be extra-sensitive.

 

The Zoloft helped immediately. I was able to concentrate and find motivation in college. After a few months I went to 50 mg, then six months after that, 75 mg. The only side effect I have ever had from Zoloft is lower sex drive, which can get annoying. In March 2015 I cut back to 50 mg with no ill effects. August 2015 I went down to 25 mg again with minimal withdrawal.

 

In May of 2016 I stopped cold turkey, thinking that 25 mg was low enough to do that on. I was fine for almost a week, and then a terrible withdrawal ensued. The symptoms started slowly, and continued to build each week. First it was dizziness, fatigue, diarrhea, loss of appetite, chills, tinnitus, raging at my family, blood pressure so low I couldn't move from the couch for a few days. Then my panic attacks started back up. After more than a month, I couldn't take it anymore. I reinstated to 12.5 mg, then 25, and a few months later to 50, where I've been ever since.

 

Once I stabilized after the reinstatement, I felt so so so much better. My depression went away. My anxiety calmed down. I was able to focus on things that mattered. I still wonder if I should try tapering again. I am so scared to, and have no motivation right now because my insurance covers Zoloft. 

 

And just to say, I have always lived a very healthy lifestyle. Even before I started Zoloft, I tried sleep, exercise, diet, supplements, EMDR, and yoga and nothing worked. It was only after I had gotten my symptoms under control that I was able to feel the additional healing effects of alternative therapies. Even now, at 50 mg a day, I make sure I exercise 5+ days a week, sleep 8+ hours, eat no sugar, mostly vegetarian, practice yoga and meditation, prayer, gratitude, acupuncture, and routine massage. 

 

Does anyone else who has tried to taper ever feel like it's just not worth it? I'd like to say that I successfully transitioned to being pharmaceutical-free, but I'm not sure I ever can. Honestly, I'm pretty happy right now, except for the guilt that always lingers in the back of my mind about how maybe I didn't try hard enough. Still, I feel pretty good these days, and I don't have any real reason to change anything that I'm doing. 

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Shep

Hi, fairygirl.

 

Welcome to Surviving Antidepressants.

 

It sounds like you were unsuccessful in the past because you tapered too quickly. I'll give you some links for information on this:

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

How psychiatric drugs remodel your brain

 

10 hours ago, fairygirl said:

In May of 2016 I stopped cold turkey, thinking that 25 mg was low enough to do that on.

 

A lot of people find the lower doses are harder to taper. And this is may be due to the SERT (serotonin transporter) occupancy. For more, please see:

 

Why taper? SERT transporter occupancy studies show importance of gradual change in plasma concentration

 

-at minimum therapeutic doses in every case, there was about 80% SERT occupancy. That shocked me personally. Even the minimum doses are locking down 80% of your brains reuptake ‘capacity’. Higher doses do more but it’s obviously not linear – they actually have plotted curves, and they’re quite a good fit statistically, particularly for the blood concentrations. Really good in fact. 

Point here though is that there’s a long way between 0% at no drug and 80% at the minimum dose.

 

 

10 hours ago, fairygirl said:

Still, I feel pretty good these days, and I don't have any real reason to change anything that I'm doing. 

 

We don't tell people they should or shouldn't come off these drugs. That has to be your decision. But I'm assuming you're posting here because you are interested in trying to come off again. 

 

There is some evidence that staying on an antidepressant creates a chronic course of illness. For more, please see:

 

Now Antidepressant-Induced Chronic Depression Has a Name: Tardive Dysphoria

 

You are actually in a much better place to taper than the majority of people who come here. Most people come to the site with their nervous systems already compromised and unstable from tapering too quickly. So you may want to check out the micro-tapering threads and remove very, very small amounts at a time. Here is more information:

 

Micro-taper instead of 10% or 5% decreases

 

The Brassmonkey Slide Method of Micro-tapering

 

You may want to get a copy of the highly recommended book:

 

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

 

Here is the author, Robert Whitaker, give a short video talk about it:

 

Robert Whitaker, author Anatomy of an Epidemic video (11.5 minutes)

 

Please let us know if you're here to taper and we can help you set up a game plan for coming off. 

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fairygirl

Thank you Shep for all of this info. Yes, I guess I am still interested in coming off of sertraline. Before I tried to quit cold turkey, I wanted to find a liquid sertraline to make it easier and more scientific to taper slowly, but my pharmacy and my doctor has no idea what I was talking about. I still wish I could find that liquid again before trying, but I even talked to a psychiatrist once, who told me there was no guarantee the drug company would have any or be willing to sell it. A very confusing answer. 

 

In the meantime, I will certainly read the literature you have provided. 

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ChessieCat

Hi fairygirl and welcome to SA from me too,

 

It is very easy to make your own liquid:

 

Tips for tapering off Zoloft (sertraline)

 

This is a helpful topic:

 

are-we-there-yet-how-long-is-withdrawal-going-to-take

 

And these topics have some helpful hints:

 

How do you talk to a doctor about tapering and withdrawal?


What should I expect from my doctor about withdrawal symptoms?

 

This is your own Introduction topic which is the place to ask questions about your own situation and where you can journal your progress.

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ChessieCat
Posted (edited)

This thread has links to printable and computer monthly withdrawal sheets with a Key for rating your symptoms.  There are also some blank ones.  Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms

Rate Symptoms Daily to Check Patterns and Progress

 

And this is another useful topic:  Keep it Simple, Slow and Stable

 

The only supplements SA recommends are Magnesium and Omega-3 Fish Oil.  Try a small amount, one at a time, to see how you react.

 

We strongly encourage members to learn and Non-drug techniques to cope to help get through any discomfort they may experience during tapering.
 

Edited by ChessieCat

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fairygirl

In the middle of a (so far successful) sertraline taper...

 

Hi, I think I might have posted here a long time ago, but I'm back with good news. First, the back story. Sorry I don't have this in my signature, I don't know how to do that. But I'll get there eventually.

 

Started zoloft/sertraline 50 mg. 9 1/2 years ago at the age of 19 1/2. I was in college, suffering from the worst depressive episode of my life. For years my doctor had recommended going to meds for my severe anxiety and depression, and finally, I did. It was that or fail all my classes and drop out. However, I think my depressive episode was because I was also struggling with an eating disorder (aka not eating enough to keep serotonin levels up) and had just had a breakup with my significant other (aka person I adored and loved most in the world) so no wonder. If I'd had the brain power to put two and two together back then I would have not started the zoloft. 

 

Anyways, meds helped tremendously within weeks, and I felt so much better. They helped with my depression, mood swings, anger, but not anxiety. So I stayed on them because I thought "why not?" But three years ago I decided that I wanted to try to go off of them to uncomplicated my life, and because I thought, I'm in a really good place in my life right now, so I went to 25 mg. for a couple of months, then to 0 mg. For the first 4 days I felt great! In fact I felt wonderful......and then **** hit the fan. First the physical symptoms: shaking, feverish, nausea, diarrhea, exhaustion, dangerously low blood pressure along with racing heart. All I could do was lay one the couch, and the nausea made me unable to eat. 

 

Then the psychological: panic attacks, fits of rage, crying, I didn't know who I was. I did this for 6 weeks and nothing got better, and then I started grad school and knew if I didn't reinstate, I'd be unable to finish my degree, so I slowly reinstated at 6, 12, 25, etc. back to 50 mg. I feel like it took me a good 12 months to stabilize and recover though. I was really not myself, and it made getting my master's much harder. 

 

Fast forward to this spring, in April, I decided to try again, at the 10% taper method, because my doctor was able to order liquid sertraline/zoloft for me. That's what I've been doing since, at a rate of 10% decrease per week. Please note, I'm only doing that while I can. The moment I start having adverse reactions, I will stop and wait however long it takes me to stabilize again. I'm currently using a 1ml syringe but after a few uses it gets stiff and hard to use so I have to break out a fresh one, despite washing them well after each use. I tried to order some pipettes from Amazon but they were listed incorrectly and I had to send them back. 

 

Does anyone know of a reputable online source for pipettes? I feel like this would be easier to use. 

 

Currently, at week #9 I am at 21.52 mg of sertraline/zoloft. Apart from the usual occasional breakthrough anxiety/panic, which I get even on 50 mg, I am doing very very well. I specifically timed it to happen during my favorite (easiest) time of the year. 

 

I wanted to post this to give people hope that even if you try it one time and it doesn't work, it doesn't mean you can't try it again with more success. I am putting some positive vibes out there for me and all the rest of us! I realize the hard part might be yet to come, but I have faith in this slow taper solution. 

 

The other things I am being sure to include in my regime are plenty of sleep, exercise, journaling, and a very healthy diet, with minimal animal products or sugar. On days when I'm feeling queasy however, I let myself eat whatever I need to, because it's better to eat cookies than nothing at all. 😉

 

I also take Natural Calm magnesium, vitamin D (I SWEAR by it - 1000mg in summer, 2500 in winter), vitamin C, zinc, a multivitamin (only 2x a week), fish oil, flax oil, evening primrose oil, either a daily probiotic or a serving of raw sauerkraut, and Kava tea and GABA supplement when my anxiety is flared up. On days when my anxiety makes it hard to eat, I usually have Mi Del ginger snaps, and coke. But that's the only time I ever have soda! 

 

I'm curious to find other people on here who have done or are doing the slow taper of zoloft/sertraline.......

 

~ Peace, xx ~

 

Edited by ChessieCat
added topic title

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Gridley

 

1 hour ago, fairygirl said:

That's what I've been doing since, at a rate of 10% decrease per week.

 

Fairygirl,

 

Tapering by 10% per week is a very fast taper and far faster than what we recommend, which is to taper no faster than 10% of current dose every four weeks.

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Withdrawal symptoms can be delayed by weeks or even months and can catch up with you.

 

Delayed onset of withdrawal symptoms

 

The 10% every four weeks taper is in line with the upregulation of your neurotransmitters that have been disabled by the drug.  If you go too fast, the brain doesn't have time to adjust and heal.

 

Why taper paper: dose-occupancy curves

 

Your enthusiasm is a big plus, but I would counsel patience and suggest you hold where you are for at least three months to let your system catch up with having less of the drug.

 

These links explain the importance of a slow taper.  

 

 
 
Please keep us updated on how you're doing.
 

 

 

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ChessieCat
1 hour ago, fairygirl said:

I'm currently using a 1ml syringe but after a few uses it gets stiff and hard to use so I have to break out a fresh one, despite washing them well after each use. I tried to order some pipettes from Amazon but they were listed incorrectly and I had to send them back. 

 

Does anyone know of a reputable online source for pipettes?

 

using-an-oral-syringe-and-other-tapering-techniques

 

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fairygirl
20 hours ago, Gridley said:

Your enthusiasm is a big plus, but I would counsel patience and suggest you hold where you are for at least three months to let your system catch up with having less of the drug.

 

Thanks for the suggestion. One of my reasons for going a little faster now is that I am not working, but in a couple of months I start a new job, and so I wanted to get some of the withdrawal out of the way beforehand. But I do want to honor my body's recovery process, whatever that might be. 

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BfromNJ
8 minutes ago, fairygirl said:

 

Thanks for the suggestion. One of my reasons for going a little faster now is that I am not working, but in a couple of months I start a new job, and so I wanted to get some of the withdrawal out of the way beforehand. But I do want to honor my body's recovery process, whatever that might be. 

im no expert here by any means, and the mods will of course have the best input, but just by going faster with your taper, you may not get the withdraw "out of the way".  it can be delayed.  That being said, I wish you the best of luck with your taper and your new job.  :)

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Gridley
24 minutes ago, BfromNJ said:

but just by going faster with your taper, you may not get the withdraw "out of the way".  it can be delayed. 

 

BfromNJ is right, Fairygirl.  You really can't get withdrawal out of the way by going too fast.  We never recommend going by a set schedule or deadline.  

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BfromNJ

And you dont want to make more problems for yourself once you are at your new job. I would hate to see it hit you then. 

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