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BCN Survivor: Zoloft: seven months off and counting


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Hi to everyone,


First time I write in S.A. (I'm from Barcelona, so please forgive my poor English skills). I've been on and off antidepressants (Celexa, Lexapro, recently Zoloft) for the past 10 years. Combined with benzodiazepines, they were initially prescribed to me in order to control insomnia, which my former doctor thought was brought on by anxiety issues (sounds familiar?). At that time, I never had had a real bout of depression. Only then, when I decided to withdraw and quit Celexa for the first time, I knew what the word Depression truly means. Had to reinstate, and... well, you know the rest of the story. Now I've been 7 months free from 50 mg. Zoloft, which I tapered down very slowly, and still having issues --mainly psychological ones, and above all, of course, insomnia. 


I don't know you, but in my case the ADs worked generally pretty well at managing the anxiety I felt at night. So the question is: why on earth did I decide, again and again, to quit them? In my personal experience (I'm a highschool teacher and a freelance writer), besides the very known sexual side effects, I found that SSRIs numbed my ability to read and to write creatively. I mean, I still could read a good novel, of course, and enjoy it, but in a way I couldn't get deeply into it. Nor could I write anything with the freedom, depth and verbal fluency that I once had. 


So the process is always the same: I start taking the AD, feel emotionally better (and important: I need to take less benzos), but then I begin to sense that my creativity and writing skills are somewhat impaired, and I want badly to withdraw. 


I've read a lot of the posts in this site, and I truly can relate to many of the excruciating withdrawal stories that people tell. But there's something most of the people just don't explain: the reason why they decided quitting their AD. Since many people benefit from the effects of ADs, and quitting them is so awful, what were the reasons that took you to take the plunge?



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Hi BCNSurvivor. Welcome to SA!


I like your question.


I've only been a member here since March and have wondered what people's specific reasons have been. Generally I assume it's the side effects, which is why I repeatedly tried to get off the med. I had a number of side effects over the last 25 years, some of which only now I realize were side effects and not "me" or other factors. The side effects were the foremost the reason I had to get off Prozac. One of the reliefs of withdrawal has been the cessation of side effects that I was scared were permanent.


I also became angry that I was saddled to a drug due to symptoms that were not mine, but caused by the drug itself.


In addition, I simply didn't like having to take a pill (or three at my highest dose) every morning. I didn't like having to remember to pack them if I was going on a trip, or camping. I didn't like having to remember to call in refills, pick-up refills, have to tell the pharmacy cashier, "no" when s/he would ask if I had questions. I didn't like feeling trapped by the ritual I guess. I didn't like not being able to donate blood, I didn't like having to answer the doctor or medical assistant when they ask if the medication was still "working" because "working" didn't mean the same thing to me as it did for them. I began to resent my co-pay in that it was supporting corruption and greed (Pharmaceutical companies). So along with the growing list of side effects, I hated the small, seemingly petty stuff.


So for me, at least this time around, withdrawal and what I believe comes after outweighs any possible "benefit" of staying on Prozac and the unknowns that accompanying staying on it. Actually, there doesn't even need to be a scale, because I have found Prozac has no benefit for me, and that even the initial positive effects, 25 years ago, were likely due to placebo effect or even just a natural progression.

1988-2012: Prozac @ 60mg to treat an eating disorder. Several unsuccessful attempts to discontinue.Fall 2012: Failed attempt to discontinue then -> 40mg Prozac and added 150mg Wellbutrin. Late summer 2013:Began slower Prozac taper.Spring 2014:Got to 10mg Prozac, 75mg of Wellbutrin -April 2014: 9mg Prozac & 37.5mg Wellbutrin 2x/day -> 9mg Prozac & 25 mg Wellbutrin 2x/day->9mg Prozac 1x/day & ~8mg Wellbutrin 2x/day -> 8.1mg Prozac, 0 WellbutrinSept '14: 8.1mg Prozac -> crashed hardOct '14: 10mg ProzacNov '14: 20mg -> 30mgDec '14: 30mg, Feb 10: 27mg. Mar 7: 25mg Mar 21, 2015: 20mg. May 21, 2016: 20mg and holding strong. Taper restarted April 2021 to 18mg, July 2021 to 16mg, currently 15mg. 


My experience: http://rxisk.org/antidepressant-withdrawal-a-prozac-story/

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briefly I'd say what Addax wrote below together with many other reasons.



So for me, at least this time around, withdrawal and what I believe comes after outweighs any possible "benefit" of staying on Prozac and the unknowns that accompanying staying on it. Actually, there doesn't even need to be a scale, because I have found Prozac has no benefit for me, and that even the initial positive effects, 25 years ago, were likely due to placebo effect or even just a natural progression.



The question you are asking is actually very frequent question made by uninformed public blaming irresponsible "mental patients": if only they stuck with their drug and be disciplined like other patients they would be fine. Unfortunately, psychotropic medications are very dangerous because they change an extremely complex and intricate system such as our brains and nobody knows how they actually work because we still don't understand how our brains work. 


Maybe we could move this discussion to some other section of the forum since this is the introductory section for people who want to come off their meds or get advice on how to manage withdrawal symptoms. At 7 moths out it's usually too late to reinstate but there are other ways of dealing with them that don't involve drugs.

You may want to put your signature here http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/893-please-put-your-withdrawal-history-in-your-signature/


I'm sure you can find some good ideas that will work for you here: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/604-important-topics-about-symptoms-including-sleep-problems/




Current: Xanax 0.26 (down from 2 mg in 2013), Lexapro 2.85 mg (down from 5 mg 2013)

Amitriptyline (tricyclic AD) and clonazepam for 3 months to treat headache in 1996 
1999. - present Xanax prn up to 3 mg.
2000-2005 Prozac CT twice, 2005-2010 Zoloft CT 3 times, 2010-2013 Escitalopram 10 mg
went from 2.5 to zero on 7 Aug 2013, bad crash 40 days after
reinstated to 5 mg Escitalopram 4Oct 2013 and holding liquid Xanax every 5 hours
28 Jan 2014 Xanax 1.9, 18 Apr  2015 1 mg,  25 June 2015 Lex 4.8, 6 Aug Lexapro 4.6, 1 Jan 2016 0.64  Xanax     9 month hold

24 Sept 2016 4.5 Lex, 17 Oct 4.4 Lex (Nov 0.63 Xanax, Dec 0.625 Xanax), 1 Jan 2017 4.3 Lex, 24 Jan 4.2, 5 Feb 4.1, 24 Mar 4 mg, 10 Apr 3.9 mg, May 3.85, June 3.8, July 3.75, 22 July 3.7, 15 Aug 3.65, 17 Sept 3.6, 1 Jan 2018 3.55, 19 Jan 3.5, 16 Mar 3.4, 14 Apr 3.3, 23 May 3.2, 16 June 3.15, 15 Jul 3.1, 31 Jul 3, 21 Aug 2.9 26 Sept 2.85, 14 Nov Xan 0.61, 1 Dec 0.59, 19 Dec 0.58, 4 Jan 0.565, 6 Feb 0.55, 20 Feb 0.535, 1 Mar 0.505, 10 Mar 0.475, 14 Mar 0.45, 4 Apr 0.415, 13 Apr 0.37, 21 Apr 0.33, 29 Apr 0.29, 10 May 0.27, 17 May 0.25, 28 May 0.22, 19 June 0.22, 21 Jun updose to 0.24, 24 Jun updose to 0.26

Supplements: Omega 3 + Vit E, Vit C, D, magnesium, Taurine, probiotic 

I'm not a medical professional. Any advice I give is based on my own experience and reading. 

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Hi Bubble, 


Well, I wouldn't label myself so easily as "uninformed people", nor am I blaming anyone for taking or not taking drugs. I've read my Robert Whitaker, Peter Breggin, David Healy, etc. I know what's the point here, and the only thing I'm asking is: what made you take the decision of coming off your drugs? Apart from Whitaker, Breggin, etc. there are other specialists that have written very well documented books about the benefits of staying on ADs. I myself was once a great pusher of the anti-drugs movement, and have come off all of them more than once (did I mention I'm 7 months off Zoloft right now?). There's a good book by Katherine Sharpe, "Coming of Age on Zoloft", which is not patronizing and shows a bunch of cases of people who decided to quit and another bunch who decided to stay on them, without making a life or death question of it.  


Addax asked very vell to my question. That's the kind of answer I was curious to know. 


Thank you anyway for the links you add to your answer. Of course I'm utterly interested in other, more natural ways of managing my insomnia and anxiety, and will do my best to do so. Maybe I should have stated before that, at the 7 months mark, most of the physical symptoms have already disappeared, and the only thing I'm left uncovered (as if I found my very soul vulnerable and naked) is the mental area. Still too snappy, too poorly tolerant to frustration and stress, having nights of insomnia when something "special" occurs, and suffering sexual PME. My mood is not the best, but is now definitely better than 3 or 4 months ago. Waiting for the summer holidays to take a break and see if my brain stabilizes a little bit. 








10 years on and off SSRIs: citalopram, escitalopram, sertraline. 

15 years on benzodiazepines and hipnotics for sleeping: lorazepam, alprazolam, flurazepam, zolpidem, eszopiclone

1 year occasionally using Seroquel, Trimipramine and Gabapentin for sleeping issues (while tapering down benzos and SSRIs)

7 months off 50 mg. Zoloft, using a very slowly taper during 6 months.

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My reasons for wanting to come off my medication were side effects, and believing that I no longer needed to be on medication  because I'd had a lot of counseling and learned better ways to handle life, plus the stressful situation which added to my problems had changed. I also wanted to get back in touch with my natural personality and passion for life, which I had lost.


I just wish I understood about tapering and withdrawal before I got myself into an even worse mess.



I'm not a doctor.  My comments are not medical advise. These are my opinions based on my own experience and what I've learned. Please discuss your situation with a medical practitioner who has knowledge of tapering and withdrawal...if you are lucky enough to find one.

My Introduction Thread

Full Drug and Withdrawal History

Brief Summary

Several SSRIs for 13 years starting 1997 (for mild to moderate partly situational anxiety) Xanax PRN ~ Various other drugs over the years for side effects

2 month 'taper' off Lexapro 2010

Short acute withdrawal, followed by 2 -3 months of improvement then delayed protracted withdrawal

DX ADHD followed by several years of stimulants and other drugs trying to manage increasing symptoms

Failed reinstatement of Lexapro and trial of Prozac (became suicidal)

May 2013 Found SA, learned about withdrawal, stopped taking drugs...healing begins.

Protracted withdrawal, with a very sensitized nervous system, slowly recovering as time passes

Supplements which have helped: Vitamin C, Magnesium, Taurine

Bad reactions: Many supplements but mostly fish oil and Vitamin D

June 2016 - Started daily juicing, mostly vegetables and lots of greens.

Aug 2016 - Oct 2016 Best window ever, felt almost completely recovered

Oct 2016 -Symptoms returned - bad days and less bad days.

April 2018 - No windows, but significant improvement, it feels like permanent full recovery is close.

VIDEO: Where did the chemical imbalance theory come from?

VIDEO: How are psychiatric diagnoses made?

VIDEO: Why do psychiatric drugs have withdrawal syndromes?

VIDEO: Can psychiatric drugs cause long-lasting negative effects?

VIDEO: Dr. Claire Weekes




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