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herod: Zoloft taper - roadmap of my recovery?

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Hey. I'm a 24 years old male.


So I've taken Zoloft 50mg for 4 months, increased to 100mg for 2 months, then back to 50mg (100->75->50) for 10 months, so roughly 1.5 years of Zoloft. I tapered quickly from 50mg to 25mg, for a week, and then I stopped taking my pills. I decided to stop completely after a week because the side effects I had from from 25mg for a week were minimal; I was unaware that the withdrawals might appear later. I thought the side effects were totally related to the half life of the medication, which I knew to be much less than one week, and since I didn't have any, that meant I was safe to go further.


This was last November, 9th.


Right now, the withdrawal effects that are causing me trouble are:


1) I seem to be unable to learn new concepts. I can remember words like "red ball" just fine, and a short string of digits, but anything more complex than that and I'm at a loss.


2) I'm so uneasy mentally and physically that I can't concentrate, maybe related to above. Like something isn't quite right with my existence. Sometimes my body feels so tense that I twitch my shoulders together.


3) Debilitating disorder of my circadian rhythm. No insomnia, my body just insists on sleeping during the day.


The thing is, after almost 3 months, I'm definitely starting to recover. In December, it began with two hours of manic energy followed by a total crash. Then it got to 4, 6, 8 hours of manic energy followed by a crash for many days. But a few days ago, I hadn't been in a manic or depressive state, I'd been more even, I could learn, and I didn't feel physically and mentally uneasy.


But, today and yesterday, my withdrawal symptoms have come back.


Is there any way to guess how much longer this is gonna take? My good times seem to last for, at most, two days now, followed by some 6 days of misery.


My Bachelor's is already taking me 5 years, and now it might take 6. This sucks.


Edited by ChessieCat
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Hi herod and welcome to SA,


SA recommends tapering by no more than 10% of the current dose followed by a hold of about 4 weeks to allow the brain to adapt to not getting as much of the drug.  Why taper by 10% of my dosage?


When the drug is taken away too quickly we can get withdrawal symptoms:  Dr Joseph Glenmullen's Withdrawal Symptoms


Please read Post #1 of this topic:  About reinstating and stabilizing to reduce withdrawal symptoms


as well as these:




CT and Fast Tapers


If you do decide that you would like to try reinstatement we can suggest a dose for you to try.  It would be a very small amount as explained in the reinstatement topic.  These drugs are strong and it is better to start with a small amount and increase if needed than to risk taking too much.  Once we experience withdrawal symptoms are nervous system may become sensitised and taking too much may make things worse.


Tips for tapering off Zoloft (sertraline)



Please create your drug signature using the following format.   Keep it simple.  NO diagnoses or symptoms please - thank you.

  • details for last 2 years - dates, ALL drugs, doses
  • summary for older than 2 years - just years and drug/s

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This is your own introductions topic where your can ask questions about your own situation and journal your progress. 

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Here's some additional information which might help you to understand what is happening:


Recovery isn't linear it happens in a Windows and Waves Pattern


Withdrawal Normal Description

When we take a psychiatric drug, we are adding chemical/s to the brain.  The brain then has to change to adapt to getting the chemical/s.  It might have to change something to do with A and then once that change has been made it affects B so another change has to be made and so on down the line.  It is a chain reaction, a domino effect.


The same thing happens when we take the drug away.  That's why it's possible to experience such a vast array of withdrawal symptoms, and they can change, and be of different intensity.




These explain it really well:


Video:  Healing From Antidepressants - Patterns of Recovery


On 8/31/2011 at 5:28 AM, Rhiannon said:

When we stop taking the drug, we have a brain that has designed itself so that it works in the presence of the drug; now it can't work properly without the drug because it's designed itself so that the drug is part of its chemistry and structure. It's like a plant that has grown on a trellis; you can't just yank out the trellis and expect the plant to be okay. When the drug is removed, the remodeling process has to take place in reverse. SO--it's not a matter of just getting the drug out of your system and moving on. If it were that simple, none of us would be here. It's a matter of, as I describe it, having to grow a new brain. I believe this growing-a-new-brain happens throughout the taper process if the taper is slow enough. (If it's too fast, then there's not a lot of time for actually rebalancing things, and basically the brain is just pedaling fast trying to keep us alive.) It also continues to happen, probably for longer than the symptoms actually last, throughout the time of recovery after we are completely off the drug, which is why recovery takes so long.




On 12/4/2015 at 2:41 AM, apace41 said:

Basically- you have a building where the MAJOR steel structures are trying to be rebuilt at different times - ALL while people are coming and going in the building and attempting to work.

It would be like if the World Trade Center Towers hadn't completely fallen - but had crumbled inside in different places.. Imagine if you were trying to rebuild the tower - WHILE people were coming and going and trying to work in the building!  You'd have to set up a temporary elevator - but when you needed to fix part of that area, you'd have to tear down that elevator and set up a temporary elevator somewhere else. And so on. You'd have to build, work around, then tear down, then build again, then work around, then build... ALL while people are coming and going, ALL while the furniture is being replaced, ALL while the walls are getting repainted... ALL while life is going on INSIDE the building. No doubt it would be chaotic. That is EXACTLY what is happening with windows and waves.  The windows are where the body has "got it right" for a day or so - but then the building shifts and the brain works on something else - and it's chaos again while another temporary pathway is set up to reroute function until repairs are made.  


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We strongly encourage members to learn and use non drug coping techniques to help get through tough times.


Understanding what is happening helps us to not get caught up with the second fear, or fear of the fear.  This happens when we experience sensations in our body and because we don't understand them we are scared of them and then start to panic.


This document has a diagram of the body explaining what happens in the body when we become anxious:





Audio FEMALE VOICE:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)


Audio MALE VOICE:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)


Non-drug techniques to cope




Dr Claire Weekes suffered from anxiety and learned and taught ways of coping.  There are videos available on YouTube.


Claire Weekes' Method of Recovering from a Sensitized Nervous System


Audio:  How to Recover from Anxiety - Dr Claire Weekes


Resources:  Centre for Clinical Interventions (PDF modules that you can work through, eg:  Depression, Distress Intolerance, Health Anxiety, Low Self-Esteem, Panic Attacks, Perfectionism, Procrastination, Social Anxiety, Worrying)
On 4/28/2017 at 4:03 AM, brassmonkey said:


AAF: Acknowledge, Accept, Float.  It's what you have to do when nothing else works, and can be a very powerful tool in coping with anxiety.  The neuroemotional anxiety many of us feel during WD is directly caused by the drugs and their chemical reactions in the brain.  Making it so there is nothing we can do about them.  They won't respond to other drugs, relaxation techniques and the like.  They do, however, react very well to being ignored.  That's the concept behind AAF.  Acknowledge, get to know the feeling involved, explore them.  Accept, These feelings are a part of you and they aren't going anywhere fast. Float, let the feeling float off as you get on with your life as best as you can.  It's a well documented fact that the more you feed in to anxiety the worse it gets.  What starts as generalized neuroemotinal anxiety can be easily blown into a full fledged panic attack just by thinking about it.


I often liken it to an unwanted house guest.  At first you talk to them, have conversations, communicate with them.  After a while you figure out that they aren't leaving and there is nothing you can do to get rid of them.  So you go on about your day, working around them until they get bored and leave.


It can take some practice, but AAF really does work.  I hope you give it a try.



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On 1/27/2019 at 2:53 PM, ChessieCat said:

Please create your drug signature using the following format.   Keep it simple.  NO diagnoses or symptoms please - thank you.

  • details for last 2 years - dates, ALL drugs, doses
  • summary for older than 2 years - just years and drug/s

Account Settings – Create or Edit a signature



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