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treadingwater: adverse reaction from 11 days of Zoloft / sertraline

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treadingwater

Reaching out for some support.  My doctor prescribed sertraline for generalized anxiety.  I took 3 days at 12.5 mg, 3 days of 25 mg, 4 days of 37.5 mg, and 1 day of 50 mg.   I was extremely sick from the start with nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, and a fast heart rate. I kept reading how things would turn around after a couple of weeks and the side effects would go away so I didn't stop.  At the bump to 25 mg, I had a panic attack which I was able to control with lorazepam.  At the bump to 50 mg, I was so sick and desperate that I went to the ER hoping for some relief.  I had a 10 hour panic attack which the lorazepam wouldn't touch.  The ER doctor was dismissive that this was just a regular anxiety attack and not an adverse reaction.  He gave me a dose of Zofran to help with the intense nausea.  I'm not sure why, but that had either no effect or made the nausea worse.  I was sent home with instructions to follow-up with my primary care and to continue taking the sertraline as directed and use the lorazepam.  I decided on my own to discontinue the sertraline.  It's clear to me that my body/brain finds it toxic.  It's been 6 days since I last took the sertraline.  I'm still having significant nausea and dizziness.  I can hardly eat.  I can only sip ice water.  I'm having vivid nightmares, which reinforces to me that I've changed my brain chemistry in a major way.  I'm trying not to let that freak me out, but honestly it does.  The mornings are the worst.  I wake up and have to lay on my arms because they feel so wired.  I'm struggling right now.  

 

My doctor's nurse said the symptoms could last a couple of weeks.  I've read it could be longer than that.  I'm trying not to focus on how long this will last because it's not helpful and makes the anxiety worse.  I've ordered some fish oil and magnesium and it should be here tomorrow.  I'm not sure that there's anything else that can be done other than trying to surround myself with other people so I'm not going through this alone.  I'm feeling judged, ashamed, angry, and about a dozen other emotions towards the doctors right now.  I know that's not helpful.  It's just where I'm at.  

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Gridley

Hello, treading water, and welcome to SA.

 

You had an adverse reaction to the Sertraline and you were wise to stop.  Doctors know so little about these drugs, and you're not alone in feeling angry.  Your attitude is very good and that will serve you well as you heal.  The damage is not permanent.

 

Brassmonkey, one of our moderators, wrote the following about adverse reactions and the timeline for healing:

 

"I think that some of the most unfortunate members we have are the ones who only took the drug for a short time and had an Adverse Reaction. Over the years I’ve seen a good number of members join who have taken their drugs for one day to a week and then stopped.  Yet they are suffering very acute symptoms.  This is an Adverse Reaction, acute symptoms that hit immediately and hard.  Some people’s chemical makeup just isn’t compatible with psych drugs and their body immediately tries to reject them, but in doing so throws itself into chaos.

 

The good news is that their body will sort itself out and they will return to normal.  The bad news is, it’s going to take a long time and there is nothing that will speed up the process.  There are a lot of coping strategies and tools that will help soften the experience, but time is the only thing that will cure it.  By time, we are looking at a minimum of eighteen months, but more than likely two to three years for a full recovery

.

That may sound very bleak, but it’s not going to all be pain and suffering.  These people tend to have a more liner recovery. The first several months will be acute.  Then things start to improve is a noticeable manner, with life starting to resume and get back on track.  All the members I have known have made full recoveries.  They then go on to graduate college, attend med school, and start successful careers in a variety of fields."

 

Regarding the magnesium and omegas, start one at a time and at a low dose to make sure there are no negative reactions.

 

We strongly recommend using non-drug techniques to deal with your symptoms.  Take a look at the links included in the following link and see which techniques you feel might be helpful to you.

 

Non-drug techniques to cope

 

This is your Introductory topic, where you can connect with other members, ask questions and post updates.  You';re not alone, and we're glad you found your way here.

 

 

 

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William

You should be proud that you took yourself off it after 11 days & recognised it was an adverse reaction & not normal start up side effects. Some people would have pushed on for weeks/months. Hopefully you’ve prevented further damage. I have no other advice to offer (as I’m not a mod), but I wish you well & just use the Lorazepam sparingly 

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treadingwater

Thank you, Gridley. 

 

I have seen small improvement in the last 24 hours. I wasn’t able to watch TV due to the movement making the dizziness worse. I’m now able to watch TV, though I can’t handle seeing anything with food.  Anything food related is revolting.  Hopefully the nausea improves next. It’s unrelenting and I’ve already lost 10 pounds. 

 

Mornings are still awful. The creepy crawly feeling in my arms is lessening and I don’t have to lay on them. So I guess I’m grateful tonight that I’m moving in the right direction. 

 

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Gridley
1 hour ago, treadingwater said:

I have seen small improvement in the last 24 hours.

 

That is great news.

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treadingwater
2 hours ago, William said:

You should be proud that you took yourself off it after 11 days & recognised it was an adverse reaction & not normal start up side effects. Some people would have pushed on for weeks/months. Hopefully you’ve prevented further damage. I have no other advice to offer (as I’m not a mod), but I wish you well & just use the Lorazepam sparingly 

 

Thanks, William. At this point, I’m anxious that anything I take will have the opposite reaction so I’m staying clear of the lorazepam.  It’s an old prescription from a 2018 medical procedure and not a medicine I regularly use. Before this, I hadn’t had an anxiety attack in years. 

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treadingwater

Quick update

 

I can see again!  My blurry vision has finally cleared up. 

 

Dizziness isn’t 24/7 any longer. I get really strong swirls of dizziness where I feel like I’m falling over, but this is an improvement. 

 

I’m still nauseated. This is my most persistent symptom. 

 

The insomnia and nightmares are still happening. Mornings are the worst. I wake up and my heart is racing and it takes me an hour to pull myself out of the sick dread I’m feeling.  This used to take 3 hours, so again that’s improvement. 

 

My 16 year old daughter talked me into doing a couple’s massage with her. That was a huge mistake. I don’t know what I was thinking. Even the lightest touch sent nerve shocks down my legs (so weird and unpleasant) and the whole experience was very claustrophobic.  I love massages so this was uncharacteristic of me. 

 

My husband has been encouraging me to go to the gym.  I was working out every day before this happened. I have no endurance and my balance is a big problem right now. I did manage to cycle for 20 minutes before my heart rate shot up too high. Since the sertraline, my resting heart rate is 100+. They did an EKG in the ER and it was fine, just a fast heart rate.  I’m faint/dizzy/lightheaded at rest so I’m not sure how much I can or should do. My anxiety spiked afterwards. Probably due to worry about my heart rate and feeling frustrated with how little I can do. 

 

It’s hard to believe all of this is from a med reaction.  

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Sassenach

Hi Treading

 

You are doing all the right things, maybe just a bit too much, too soon.

Cycling with poor balance is not a good idea:rolleyes:, try walking instead and find your ideal pace.

You are doing very well but you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, and there is no way to hurry it along.

You will mend much sooner than most and your good sense has saved you more than you can imagine.

Be gentle on yourself.

 

Sassenach

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treadingwater
2 hours ago, Sassenach said:

Hi Treading

 

You are doing all the right things, maybe just a bit too much, too soon.

Cycling with poor balance is not a good idea:rolleyes:, try walking instead and find your ideal pace.

You are doing very well but you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, and there is no way to hurry it along.

You will mend much sooner than most and your good sense has saved you more than you can imagine.

Be gentle on yourself.

 

Sassenach

I was on the stationary sitting cycle so there’s no balance involved.  I suppose I could still fall off but that would be unlikely :)  Walking is dicier at this point than sitting.  

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Sassenach

Nice one,, still advice stands.

Treat yourself gently.

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treadingwater

I’m hanging in there. It’s been about 2.5 weeks since I stopped the sertraline. I’m still experiencing nausea and dizziness though it’s much less. I’ve had an increase in anxiety. I’m not sleeping well.  Last night, I was worried the symptoms were cancer related and not the adverse reaction to sertraline. I know this is the anxiety overriding my thought process. In the midst of it, though, I started thinking that the nurse said my symptoms should only last a couple of weeks so it MUST be something like cancer. Anyways, this morning I can look back and see it for what it is. 

 

I still cannot exercise and that distresses me. I walked on the treadmill yesterday. My balance isn’t good so I had to hang on and the disequilibrium was much worse when I finished.  I walked for 30 minutes but really struggled with feeling sick and panicky at the 25 minute mark.  Exercise has always helped my anxiety and it’s very frustrating to have it trigger symptoms.  

 

Before I started taking the sertraline, I asked my husband to attend couples therapy. We have our first session tonight. I’m not sure I feel well enough. I’m going to go anyway and hope I can participate and it ultimately helps our communication.   We’ve really been struggling lately and that’s why I tried the sertraline to begin with.  I think I went to my doctor just looking for someone to acknowledge that I’m going through a really tough time.  I wasn’t experiencing anything like panic attacks or insomnia.  I didn’t need the SSRI. I needed a referral to counseling.  The irony of this is that now I get to deal with the same life problems while feeling a thousand times worse. 

 

Ending on a positive note.....That floaty, out of body feeling is mostly gone.  

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treadingwater

I have a question. Hopefully one of the moderators can answer. 

 

I was diagnosed with mast cell activation about a year ago. Alcohol was my only trigger and I am fine as long as I don’t drink.  When I was walking on the treadmill today, I’m 99.9% sure I had mast cell activation. Any idea why a post SSRI reaction would make me more sensitive to mast cell activation? It’s weird that exercise wasn’t a trigger before but seems to be now. I got head to toe intensely itchy while on the treadmill and then my heart rate spiked and the panicky feelings started. This is what happens when I drink alcohol. The mast cell activation was confirmed with pre and post alcohol exposure blood tests. 

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ChessieCat

 

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Altostrata

Hello, treadingwater.

 

Withdrawal syndrome often makes people hypersensitive to many things that didn't bother them previously.

 

We don't know much about mast cell activation here. You might join one of the many groups on Facebook to find out how to manage it.

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treadingwater

Good Morning.  Here’s my update. I’m probably 75% back to normal. I had a major setback yesterday though. I got a call back on my mammogram for more testing so that triggered some anxiety.  The dizziness and nausea came back with a vengeance and I fought panic attacks all afternoon and evening. I took .25mg of lorazepam, which barely helped.   My follow-up testing isn’t until Tuesday so I need to hold it together until then.

 

Current symptoms:

anxiety

nausea

lack of appetite

dizziness that was mostly resolved until yesterday

exercise intolerance  

 

I had my annual eye exam yesterday. My vision has gotten worse. I thought it had returned to normal, but both eyes were worse. 

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