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Expected810: Time to taper off of Sertraline?


Expected810

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Expected810

Expected810

 

Hello all!  I have been reading a lot of posts on SA, and they have been very helpful and encouraging!  I am grateful for finding this forum and am seeking help regarding my current mental health situation.  I am somewhat stuck on what to do and would really appreciate any advice.

 

So, on January 27th, 2020, I had my first ever panic attack, went to the ER, thought it was a heart attack and it took them over 2 hours to calm my heart rate down with intravenous Ativan.  This was the first time I had taken a benzo drug or any anxiety drug.  After that first episode, I went a full 3 weeks of having panic attacks and just bad anxiety (mainly at night), so I was taking one 0.5 mg Ativan nightly during those times, and during the day time I was taking my daily vitamins (vitamin d, centrum) along with omega 3 fish oil and GABA 250 mg supplement twice a day to keep me calm.  I was convinced my body had become dependent on Ativan and it was just making my anxiety worse, so I decided to get off of it by cutting it in half for a few days after three weeks of use. After the three weeks, I had about one week of intense physical anxiety (stomach cramps, churning, agitiation, depression) after stopping.  Then the following 3 weeks after the first week off, I had lots of dizziness after eating meals, and lots of nights with insomnia, where I would have to take hydroxyizine 25 mg for.  But in that 1 full month after stopping Ativan, I had not had a real panic attack like my first one.  Then my 2nd month off Ativan started and I started getting really bad churning in my stomach, and it led to a full blown panic attack which forced me to take hydroxyzine 25 mg as I didn't want to start Ativan again.  After that I had full week of these panic attacks which lasted 5-6 hours daily becoming rolling panic attacks, with almost every physical symptom with numbing of my arms, choking sensation, churning stomach, dizziness, lightheadedness, high heart rate, and diffculty breathing. 

 

After my panic attacks returned, I went to a psychiatrist, and they diagnosed me with panic disorder and prescribed me Sertraline 25 mg.  I started taking it daily on March 22, 2020. After a week my panic attacks subsided and haven't had one since the almost seven weeks I have been on it.  However, while I am thankful my panic attacks are gone for now, I cannot handle the daily side Sertraline side effects from stomach pain, dizziness, tiredness, lack of motivation, lack of focus, mood swings, and bouts of depressive thoughts.  Most of these I never had, especially the depressive thoughts. Its like I'm just waking up to wake up, I really can't function like a normal human.  My psychiatrist has recommended I go up in dosage, but I have politely refused, because my goal was to only treat my panic disorder, which it has been and I don't want to go higher because I fear it might become more difficult to get off.  

 

So thats my story, I really need advice on how I should proceed, I want to stop the Sertraline and try to treat my panic disorder other ways, but I'm somewhat fearful of the withdrawal and unsure how to taper off a low dose like this.  Thank you!

Edited by Gridley
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  • Moderator

Welcome to SA, Expected810.  I'm glad you're doing better.

 

We're happy to help you taper off the Sertraline.

 

We recommend tapering no more than 10% of your current dose every four weeks.  The low doses of these SSRI's are the most potent, and you might want to consider tapering by 5% every four weeks or holding for 6 weeks instead of four before the next taper.

 

Why taper by 10% of my dosage?

 

This link is specifically about tapering Sertraline, including  how to get the nonstandard low doses you'll need for your taper.

 

Tips for tapering off Zoloft (sertraline)

 

We don't recommend a lot of supplements on SA, as many members report being sensitive to them due to our over-reactive nervous systems, but two supplements that we do recommend are magnesium (glycinate is a good form) and omega 3 (fish oil). Many people find these to be calming to the nervous system. 

 

Magnesium, nature's calcium channel blocker 

 

Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) 

 

Add in one at a time and at a low dose in case you do experience problems.

 

We recommend using non-drug coping skills to deal with life's ups and downs.  Take a look at the links in the following link and see which technique you think might be helpful for you.

 

Non-drug techniques to cope

 

The following link is specifically about panic

 

Audio:  First Aid for Panic (4 minutes)

 

This is your Introduction topic, where you can ask questions and connect with other members.  We're glad you found your way here.

 

 

 

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg 1986-1991 CT, soon reinstated.  CT 2000. RI 1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept. 2016  0.625mg X 3

Nov.27, 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover + change to one 18.75mg dose, w/1 month hold.

Feb. 9, 2021, begin 10% every 4 weeks taper.  Current dose as of Feb. 23: 16.0mgai.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 16mgai (0.44mgpw).  Aug 2016, discovered SA, holding at 16mg.  Taper is 78% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg.


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice, but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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Expected810

Hi Gridley!

 

Thank you for responding and providing me with all the helpful information and support, I really appreciate it.  I just have a few questions.    Since I have been on  25 mg Sertraline for almost 7 weeks, would I have a worse withdrawal then someone who has been on it longer? My assumption was, it would be easier for me to get off, since I haven't been on it long. 

 

Also, I'm not sure if you will be able to answer this, but do you think I have been on the medication long enough to actually balance out my neurotransmitters?  Some people have told me on other forums and sites, I haven't experienced the therapeutic dose, so I will just go back to how I was before I started if I get off of Sertraline. 

 

Finally, regarding the tapering method, I read the tips, but was somewhat confused,  I only have 25 mg pills, so would I have to taper by converting my pills to liquid form to taper 5%-10%? I have a pill cutter, but I'm not sure how I could get an exact measurement every time, do I need to get a digital scale?  Thank you!

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  • Moderator
45 minutes ago, Expected810 said:

Since I have been on  25 mg Sertraline for almost 7 weeks, would I have a worse withdrawal then someone who has been on it longer?

It is definitely to your advantage that you've been on the drug a short time.

 

45 minutes ago, Expected810 said:

do you think I have been on the medication long enough to actually balance out my neurotransmitters?  Some people have told me on other forums and sites, I haven't experienced the therapeutic dose, so I will just go back to how I was before I started if I get off of Sertraline. 

 

The "chemical imbalance" theory, that there's an imbalance in the brain that SSRI's fix, has been proven to be a hoax, made up out of whole cloth by the drug companies.  

Again, chemical imbalance is a myth. Stop the lies, please ...

SSRI's  don't balance out the neurotransmitters but rather shut them down, altering the chemistry of the brain.  The purpose of the 10% taper is to slowly allow the neurotransmitters to function again and bring your brain back to its natural state.   Instead of drugs, we encourage the use of non-drug coping skills to deal with life's ups and downs.

 

Non-drug techniques to cope

 

45 minutes ago, Expected810 said:

regarding the tapering method,

 

If your psychiatrist is willing, you could taper by getting a prescription for liquid Zoloft.  

 

The other method, which I've used for my Lexapro taper, is to get a digital scale.  Many members use the smart weigh digital jewelry scale GEM20, available on Amazon.  Using this method, you weigh the tablet, then remove 10% of the weight.  If you choose this method, I can walk you through the process.  It becomes very easy.

 

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg 1986-1991 CT, soon reinstated.  CT 2000. RI 1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept. 2016  0.625mg X 3

Nov.27, 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover + change to one 18.75mg dose, w/1 month hold.

Feb. 9, 2021, begin 10% every 4 weeks taper.  Current dose as of Feb. 23: 16.0mgai.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 16mgai (0.44mgpw).  Aug 2016, discovered SA, holding at 16mg.  Taper is 78% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg.


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice, but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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Expected810

Wow, the "chemical imbalance" theory was used on me after I got diagnosed.  My psychiatrist  used it to convince me to start the medication, I had a lot of skepticism at the time, but I really didn't want to question her thinking, as it was my first time being prescribed a SSRI medication or dealing with any of this type of mental health stuff.  I wish I would've known then, what I know now. 

 

My psychiatrist is really stubborn, I doubt she will let me get a liquid Zoloft prescription to taper off.  Last time I asked her, "what if I want to get off of the 25 mg dose?"  She literally stated, "its such a low dose,  you can just stop."  So, I really only use her to get prescriptions filled at this point, not for advice, and I can't really choose another psychiatrist because my insurance plan selects them for us.  

 

I will order the GEM20 scale from Amazon, and do the scale method for now,  and yes, it would really help if you could please share how you went about this method.  Thank you so much!

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  • Moderator
23 minutes ago, Expected810 said:

Wow, the "chemical imbalance" theory was used on me after I got diagnosed.

I'm amazed it's still being trotted out.  Many psychiatrists are embarrassed by the whole thing and now try to deny they ever believed it. 

 

23 minutes ago, Expected810 said:

She literally stated, "its such a low dose,  you can just stop."

 

I'm glad you know you can't.

 

23 minutes ago, Expected810 said:

it would really help if you could please share how you went about this method. 

 

Once you scale arrives and you familiarize yourself with it (it has a short simple instruction book) we can do it step by step. Here's a link to get you started.

 

Using a digital scale to measure doses

 

You also need to order size 00 gelatin capsules for your doses.

 

I keep track of my taper with a simple chart in a notebook.  It looks like this:

 

DATE               CURRENT DOSE (mgai)         WEIGHT (mgpw)           % OF REDUCTION

                                25mg

.

You will taper by weight (mg pill weight) and keep track with mgai (mg active ingredient).  Your 25mgai pill will weigh much more than 25mg because of the fillers they use to bind the tablet.

 

Zoloft is an easy drug to use with the scale. 

 

 

Gridley Introduction

 

Lexapro 20 mg since 2004.  Begin Brassmonkey Slide Taper Jan. 2017.   

End 2017 year 1 of taper at 9.25mg 

End 2018 year 2 of taper at 4.1mg

End 2019 year 3 of taper at 1.0mg  

Oct. 30, 2020  Jump to zero from 0.025mg.  Current dose: 0.000mg

3 year, 10 month taper is 100% complete.

 

Ativan 1 mg 1986-1991 CT, soon reinstated.  CT 2000. RI 1 mg 2011-2016.  Sept. 2016  0.625mg X 3

Nov.27, 2020, 7-week Ativan-Valium crossover + change to one 18.75mg dose, w/1 month hold.

Feb. 9, 2021, begin 10% every 4 weeks taper.  Current dose as of Feb. 23: 16.0mgai.

 

Imipramine 75 mg daily since 1986.  Jan. 2016 began every 3-weeks 10% taper, down to 16mgai (0.44mgpw).  Aug 2016, discovered SA, holding at 16mg.  Taper is 78% complete.  

  

Supplements: omega, vitamins C, E and D3, magnesium glycinate, probiotic, zinc, melatonin .3mg.


I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice, but simply information based on my own experience, as well as other members who have survived these drugs.

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