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Leon

Leon: considering taper from 40 year Zoloft use

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Leon

I have been on Zoloft for over 40 years.  I have been on Vicodin and Xanax for almost that long but have recently rapidly discontinued these two drugs over the course of 2 months.  After one month of severe W/D sxs, I crossed over to Valium 30mgs.  After stabilizing for a month, I began slowly tapering the Valium from 15mg, which is going well.

 

I feel that the Zoloft has completely stopped working for me a long time ago and that it is now only preventing W/D sxs.  I am at the maximum dose and I think that I would feel better at a much lower dose or completely off of it.

 

I read here on SA that it is a good idea to taper off of your AD first and then taper your benzo.  I am now considering holding my taper of the Valium and beginning the taper of my Zoloft, keeping the Trazadone for sleep.

 

I realize that this process will take a long time, especially with me being at the maximum dose of Zoloft.  I really want to taper off of the Valium at some point due to the possibility of future dementia issues.  I am 65 years old and am wondering if it is even worth the trouble to start this process knowing that possibly the next 10 years, or more, of my life could be a living hell.

 

I would like any and all thoughts on my predicament and if you think that I should begin this journey, which should I begin with and how to go about doing it.  I know that slow, slow, slow is the key with any taper.

 

Thank you for reading my story,

Leon

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Gridley
Posted (edited)

Welcome to SA, Leon.  Thanks for completing your signature.

 

We have somewhat similar drug profiles, each of us with an antidepressant, a benzo and one other to taper, indicating a rather long period before we're off the drugs.  I'm 71 and started my tapering process three years ago.  It's a long haul but I'm glad I'm doing it.  Perhaps some of my reasons will resonate with you.  First, I just didn't want to be on drugs for the rest of my life.  There were no long-term tests done during the approval process, so we really don't know what the effects of long-term use are. As you can  see from my signature, I've been on the tricyclic for 33 years and the Lexapro for 16.  There's also the risk of poop-out, which you said you're experiencing.  If that is the case, that's an argument for tapering as explained in the following link.

 

Tachyphylaxis or As It’s Lovingly Known “Poopout”

 

There was also the danger of serotonin syndrome from being on two antidepressants (If you run Trazodone and Zoloft here  Drug Interactions Checker you'll see there's a major interaction between the two.)  You also mentioned the danger of dementia, and the benzo and my tricyclic are associated with this.  

 

Withdrawal doesn't have to be a living hell if you taper at a sensibly slow rate.  There will be discomfort, which will vary from person to person. My Lexapro taper has gone reasonably smoothly with some tolerable discomfort.   

 

Have you stabilized from the Valium crossover?  I wouldn't make any changes until you have.  

 

I assume you're taking the Trazodone nightly, correct?  Why did you start the Trazodone?

 

As you've read, we do recommend tapering the activating drug first, in your case the Zoloft, leaving the more sedating drugs (Xanax and Trazodone to act as a buffer for later tapering).


Taking multiple psych drugs? Which drug to taper first?

 

You could put the valium taper on hold and, assuming you've stabilized from your crossover, begin the Zoloft taper.  We recommend tapering by no more than 10% of current dose every four weeks.

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

Another method, which I'm using, is the Brassmonkey slide taper, which involves four equal weekly 2 1/2% cuts followed by a 2-week hold.  It talks a little longer but is gentler because the 10% cut doesn't hit you all at once.

 

The Brassmonkey Slide Method of Micro-tapering

 

This link is specifically about tapering Zoloft.

 

Tips for tapering off Zoloft (sertraline)

 

This is your Introduction topic, the place for you to ask questions, post updates and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Gridley

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Leon

Hiya Gridley,

 

Thanks for responding to my post.  I hope to hear from others, as well.  Please chime in.

 

I have not stabilized from my most recent cut of Valium.  I am at 13mg and plan to taper to 12.5mg and stabilize there.  At that point I will hold for at least a month and then start the marathon Zoloft taper at a very slow pace.

 

I do take the Trazadone at night.  I don't really know if it helps my sleep that much.  I think that the Magnesium Chelate (biglycinate) that I take along with Melatonin helps the most.  I got on Trazadone from my Pdoc as an adjunct to the Zoloft.  I think he knew that the Zoloft had long ago lost its efficacy.

 

I am thinking that I will DLMT (Daily Liquid Micro Taper) the Zoloft.  I was doing that with the Valium with good results.  I do realize, after reading here on SA, that a DLMT of an AD is much different than with a benzo.  I plan on longer holds with the AD,

 

I was just wondering if there are other people on SA who are 60 or older who could give me their input as to how their tapers have gone, or are going?  Yours, Gridley, seems to be going well, which is good to hear.

 

I have to admit that the prospect of a long, drawn out taper at my age is not inviting, especially being on the max dose of Zoloft.  

 

But, I do not want to be on these drugs any longer.  The question is do I have enough life left in me to see this through, and what quality of life will that be with the WD sxs, both during and after the taper?  

 

In other words, will it be worth it?  Will it be time well spent?

 

I'm hoping others will offer me their opinions on these questions.  I sure would appreciate it!

 

Leon

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Sassenach

Hi Leon

 

I am 67 years old and am currently stabilising on 5mgs of Escitalopram, four months in with an improving baseline.

I C/Ted Escitalopram and Fentanyl ( morphine ) patches in Dec 2018, biggest and most stupid decision in my life.

I was in poor shape when I found this site, caught by my GPs ignorance of WD.

As to, will it be worth it really depends on how you are feeling on the drugs.

I arrived at a point when my quality of life was so poor it was an easy decision, even if I went about it the wrong way.

I am not stable yet but I do know I have a sense of humour again.

On the good days I can feel better than for years.

I do not have the poly drug history like yours and it will take the knowledge of the senior mods to advise you should you decide to proceed.

I can tell you, you will be among friends, everyone on here  has been through WD.

The staff on here are unpaid and face an increasing workload, but they are here.

I won't comment on ten years of living hell because again it is beyond my experience but I do know it will be worth it for me.

For some reason my browser will not paste links at the moment but there a forum entitled " Success Stories " that may help in your decision.

Gridley also gave you links. Not light reading I know but maximum understanding helps.

I wish you well and understand your dilemma.

 

Sassenach

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Leon

Hiya Sassenach and thanks for responding.

 

I have read through the links that Gridley sent me and found them very interesting.  I will now go through some of the Success Stories that you just mentioned, thank you.  It sounds like your taper is going very well for you.  Congratulations!

 

When I tapered way too fast off of the Vicodin and the Xanax at the same time over a 2 month period, I knew I was in big trouble the second day that I was off the both of them.  I went through the WD sxs for a month and it was the worst month of my life.  I just know that I don't want to put up with those type of sxs during and/or after a Zoloft taper.  I just couldn't handle it and THAT would not be worth it.

 

In that regard, I realize that going slow is key.  I am now in search of the best way to go about tapering after 40 years of use to minimize, as much as possible, all WD sxs.

 

Thanks

Leon

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Gridley
11 hours ago, Leon said:

I am now in search of the best way to go about tapering after 40 years of use to minimize, as much as possible, all WD sxs.

 

 

Here is one more tapering method, perhaps the gentlest.

 

Micro-taper instead of 10% or 5% decreases

 

 

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Sassenach
On 7/10/2019 at 2:26 AM, Leon said:

I have to admit that the prospect of a long, drawn out taper at my age is not inviting, especially being on the max dose of Zoloft.

Hi Leon.

 

Congrats on your decision.

I understand what you mean by the above quote but remember if you remain stable by using a slow taper as Gridley is suggesting , you can get on with your life.

It will become part of your daily routine that you can at least put to the back of your mind.

It may take a while but every day is one step towards zero.

The threads on here are full of diverse people all getting through this and some days you just need someone to talk to who understands.

Best of luck and please keep us informed of how you are doing.

 

Sassenach

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Leon

Gridley, the micro taper is at the top of my list on the proper way for me to go about tapering Zoloft.  Thanks for the link.  

 

My question is where do most people safely start (at what %) after they have been on a drug for as long as I have and at the maximum dosage?  To me, 10% sounds scary.  Especially when it sometimes takes up to 2 months or more before any w/d sxs show up.  By then you would be tapered down close to 20% and could be in w/d hell.

 

Just lookin' for some advice here.

 

Leon

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Gridley
11 hours ago, Leon said:

My question is where do most people safely start (at what %)

You could start at 2% or even 1% for the two cuts and see how that feels.  You could also hold an additional time (perhaps a month) after the first two cuts or even after the first cut just to be safe.   If  that goes well, you could slowly increase the percentage, if you wanted to.  

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smk1234

Hi Leon,

I read your story and can sympathize. I am in a similar predicament, although a bit younger, but I've been on another SSRI Luvox for 20 years and feel it stopped working long ago. I feel I'm only taking it at this point to avoid withdrawal which is a sad place to be. I got off benzos 3 years ago and honestly still don't feel great but don't know if its still from benzo wd or what. I'm terrified to start reducing the Luvox (I'm also at 200 mg) and feel trapped and confused - will my life get even worse if I try to taper? Or should I just stay on it forever?? I don't have any answers for you, infact I just posted another thread of my own about my dilemma, but it helps a bit to know I'm not alone or crazy.

 

Best wishes.

 

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Leon

Gridley, your suggestion about a 1 or 2% cut is a great idea.  That will probable  ly be the route that I take.  

 

The extra long hold sounds like it would ease my mind a bit also.

 

I'm just trying to get all of my ducks in a row.  All recommendations welcomed.

 

Thanks for the advice, my friend!

Leon

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SertralineAnxiety

Hi, I am tapering from 50mg Zoloft after being on it since 2005. I started reducing my overall dose by skipping days, before I found this site. I felt great for some months of tapering, but after around 9 months I crashed. Since then, I heard from many other people that Zoloft withdrawals can often appear several months after reducing the dose, even up to a year. I assume this is because the drug or its metabolite takes a long time to leave the system. 

 

I hate the side effects, and I hate not knowing who I am without Zoloft, but withdrawal syndrome can be unbearable and dangerous, so I decided to go very slowly. I am now reducing by 2% a month, and will re-evaluate or hold every 6 months. 

 

If you feel like suffering withdrawal symptoms isn't worth it, I think doing an extremely slow microtaper is better than not trying to quit at all. If you encounter symptoms, you can just hold the taper. For me, even being stuck on a slightly lower dose is better than never reducing. 

 

Why were you put on Zoloft in the first place? What makes you think it stopped working? I thought it came onto the market in the 90s, did they give it to you under a different name?

 

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Leon

Hi SertralineAnxiety

 

I was originally put on an AD in 1979 by my then well-meaning GP.  He thought that it would help with my Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia.  Why?  I don't know.  I think the name of it was nortryptaline.  It did seem to help somewhat.  

 

I stayed on it until 1991 or 1992 when I changed GPs, and he thought that Zoloft would suit me better.  i noticed an immediate change, all for the good.  All was well for quite some time. 

 

I have stayed with this same GP ever since and he has never offered to take me off of it.  It was only recently that I started to feel worse with depression and anxiety that I started to do research on my own, and realized that the Zoloft had probably lost its efficacy.  As I said earlier, I was put on Trazadone recently as an adjunct to Zoloft by my pDoc because I think he, as well as I, knew that the Zoloft had long ago lost its effectiveness.  

 

By then I was poly-drugged to the hilt by my GP and my pDoc.  The majority of the medicine that I am on is poison and I want off of it.

 

I am of like-mind with you in thinking that it is better to micro-taper at least a portion of the ADs and benzos rather than do nothing.  My aim is to get off of all the ADs and benzos, God willing.

 

How did you come to decide on 2% to taper, rather than 3, 4, 5 or more %?

 

Leon

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Leon

Hiya SMK

 

Congratulations on getting off of benzos!  Did you dry taper or liquid taper the BZs?  Do you think that you may have come off of them too fast because you are still not feeling well?

 

I have come to the conclusion that it is so worth it to me to taper as least SOME of these ADs rather than do nothing.  If I can at least reduce my dose somewhat, I will be happy.  Who knows, if I do it right I may be able to come off them altogether.

 

If you micro taper and take it slow with long holds, you should be able to mitigate the majority of the bad SXs.  If you start feeling worse, either hold for longer period of time or updose to where you were feeling better, stabilize and then begin a slower taper.  What have you got to lose?

 

You are definitely NOT alone or crazy, SMK.  There are a lot of people here to support you in your dilemma.

 

Let me know what you decide to do.

 

Leon

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smk1234

Leon,

I did a long taper off Valium, starting with dry cutting then switching to liquid near the end. It took me a couple years. The nice thing about Valium is that you can get it from a regular pharmacy already in liquid form. I am really intimidated by the thought of crushing my Luvox and making my own solution to do a microtaper. I am going to see if I can at least start cutting the pills while the dose is large. I don't know. I'm currently in a bad anxiety state caused by a life stress and trying to crawl my way out of this or at least feel a bit more stable before starting. Thanks for helping me feel not so alone and scared and let me know how you do.

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Leon

SMK,

I am making my own solution with Valium, using Vodka to dissolve it and then adding water to make a true solution.  It was scary at first but after I got started, it was a piece of cake.  I would recommend it to anyone.  There is always someone to help you on these forums if you find yourself in a predicament, SMK.

 

It will help if you stabilize first before you begin your taper of Luzox,  no matter how long it takes.  Remember to go slow and take breaks as you proceed.

 

Best of luck to you, my friend!

Leon

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