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Zoloft withdrawal success - my story

 

 

When I first decided to wean myself off of Zoloft, I searched the internet for stories about people who had successfully gotten off antidepressants and had trouble finding them so I promised myself that if I made it I would post my story.

 

Tomorrow, will mark my "no Zoloft for one year" anniversary. In that time, I haven't used alcohol or any other mood altering substance either, and I'm doing fine. It hasn't been easy, and it took a while, but I made it and I was able to function, to work and to take care of myself throughout.

 

Diagnosed with social anxiety and depression when I was in my mid 40s, I was put on Zoloft and stayed at 200mg per day for around 5 years. The Zoloft helped me. It took the edge off of my anxiety, and since my depression was the result of my anxiety, it helped with that as well. Another pleasant side effect was that I lost a few pounds. So why would I want to stop taking it? The Nurse Practitioner who prescribed the meds was puzzled. It works, why stop taking it? I can't fully answer that question, but I think it has something to do with the fact that I've struggled with addiction my entire life. Drugs, alcohol, food... maybe I felt like by taking the Zoloft I was avoiding dealing with one of the major themes of my life.

 

Whatever the reason, I wanted to stop taking it. I'd tried twice using the NP's tapering recommendation, which was to decrease by 50mg every week for a month. I never made it past the first week because I'd have flashes of disorientation and dizziness (which I didn't mind) and then become anxious and depressed (which I did mind). She told me  Zoloft didn't cause withdrawal symptoms, it was my natural state of anxiety and depression returning, so I needed to stay on the Zoloft. I knew I was having withdrawal symptoms, but they were so intense I couldn't function, so went back on the Zoloft.

 

Then my mother told me that she had weaned herself off of Premerin by doing a very slow taper over the course of a year, so I decided to try that. My plan was to decrease the Zoloft by 25mg every month over a period of 8 months. The first month was fine. I'd have rough patches, but they were manageable. After 8 months I was off the Zoloft but a few weeks later, I started having withdrawal symptoms including what people refer to as "brain zaps." I called them "head rushes" because it felt like my brain was being flooded by chemicals.

 

Then I became anxious and depressed again, so I decided to go back up to the lowest dosage where I felt good, which was 50mg. Then instead of tapering at 25mg per month, I reduced it to 10mg a month, and that is how I eventually got off the Zoloft. Whenever the withdrawal symptoms became uncomfortable, I'd go back up to a "comfortable" dosage then begin tapering in smaller increments, a "progressive taper," similar to what is recommended in the book "The Anti-Depressant Solution," and on this website.

 

Eventually I had to buy a milligram scale (available on amazon), because the increments became so small. I was amazed how sensitive my body had become to the tiniest adjustments in dosage. The last month I was down to 5mg, and I stopped taking Zoloft completely February 1, 2014. One year ago tomorrow.

 

I was on 200mg of Zoloft for 5 years and it took 2 ½ years to taper off completely. It took a long time, but I wanted to taper safely, physically and emotionally. And I did. During that time I was able to work and to meet all my social commitments. At the suggestion of the NP, I joined a social anxiety group which used Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She warned that I shouldn't go off the meds without addressing the underlying cause, which made sense to me.

 

However, I also believe that much of my anxiety and depression was situational, even though she maintained it was my natural state. When I first came to her, I was going through an extremely stressful period of my life. I was having problems finding work and didn't know how I was going to pay my rent or survive from month to month. I went on one job interview after another and I think social anxiety and depression were my way of trying to protect myself from more rejection and failure.

 

So how do I feel now, one year later? I'm doing okay. I occasionally get a head rush, but it's very mild. I wouldn't today describe myself as either socially anxious or depressed, but I know that this is how I react to stress, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has helped me develop strategies for dealing with those tendencies. 12 step programs, self help books, spiritual practices like yoga and meditation, healing modalities like Reiki, and individual therapy have all been part of my healing process as well.

 

On this journey, life has given me both challenges and assistance in dealing with social anxiety and depression. For example, as I was tapering I started dating someone for the first time in years, and we had a fun relationship which helped heal a lot of issues relating to social anxiety. Then, after two years we broke up, so that offered its challenges, but I didn't sink into depression, which was kind of amazing. At the time, I also had bed bugs which deprived me of sleep and sent my anxiety through the roof, but I survived that too. (The bed bugs did not.)

 

My ex-boyfriend introduced me to hiking, which I loved, so I started going to hiking meet-ups and found a circle of friends who also love to hike which helped heal a different aspect of my social anxiety. Also, becoming more physically active probably helped with the depression...

 

In other words, life went on. There were challenges and there were opportunities and often the challenges were the opportunities. The Zoloft helped me get through a very difficult period of my life, and I'm grateful for that, but I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But here I am, 8 ½ years later, and I haven't used Zoloft or any mood altering drugs, alcohol or coffee (all of which affect my anxiety and depression) for a year. 

 

Today, I feel optimistic and hopeful. I know life will have it's challenges but also that I have resources and strategies to assist me, and I am grateful to all who have helped me on this journey; therapists, teachers, friends, strangers, nature, and also to life itself, which Eckhart Tolle calls "the greatest guru of all."

 

Do I have moments of fear and anxiety? Yes! Do I have moments of happiness and joy? Yes! Do I have moments of depression and sadness? Yes! Do I have moments of laughter and silliness? Yes! All of it, yes. What I was dreading is that it would be unending anxiety and depression, and that hasn't been my experience. Life is okay, with its highs and lows and all of it. Like Snoop Dogg says, "it's all good."

Edited by cymbaltawithdrawal5600
removed blank lines at end

8/1/07: 200mg Zoloft

6/1/12: begin tapering at 25 mg a month

1/1/13: no meds

1/11/13: reinstate at 50mg

3/1/13: begin tapering at 10mg a month

6/1/13: down to 10mg then back up to 15mg

7/1/13: back up to 25mg a month

8/1/13: begin 3mg a month taper

1/1/14: 5mg Zoloft

2/1/14: No Zoloft

2/1/15: No Zoloft one year

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cymbaltawithdrawal5600

What a delightful story, Powerpuff. I hope your life continues on this very nice upward trend. If you ever need any support please don't hesitate to ask. You might have tapered more quickly than we recommend but it does work for some people to do it that way. Your story is quite an inspiration for all of us!

What happened and how I arrived here: http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4243-cymbaltawithdrawal5600-introduction/#entry50878

 

July 2016 I have decided to leave my story here at SA unfinished. I have left my contact information in my profile for anyone who wishes to talk to me. I have a posting history spanning nearly 4 years and 3000+ posts all over the site.

 

Thank you to all who participated in my recovery. I'll miss talking to you but know that I'll be cheering you on from the sidelines, suffering and rejoicing with you in spirit, as you go on in your journey.

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Thank you cymbalawithdrawal5600.

8/1/07: 200mg Zoloft

6/1/12: begin tapering at 25 mg a month

1/1/13: no meds

1/11/13: reinstate at 50mg

3/1/13: begin tapering at 10mg a month

6/1/13: down to 10mg then back up to 15mg

7/1/13: back up to 25mg a month

8/1/13: begin 3mg a month taper

1/1/14: 5mg Zoloft

2/1/14: No Zoloft

2/1/15: No Zoloft one year

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Congratulations! There are silver linings in this hellish journey. Sounds like a solid spiritual practice has grown out of withdrawal for you, and that is something that will benefit the rest of your life.

9/2006 Began Lexapro

1/2014 Began taper from 15mg 

Cut dose by 2.5 mg every two weeks or until stabilized 

5/25/2014 Last dose 

 

Experienced: Anxiety/depression, intrusive thoughts, dizziness, de-personalization, mood swings, stomach pains, nausea, headaches, gastro upset, anger, many spells of brain fog, chills, water retention, hypoglycemia, heart palpitations, weight gain, light headedness, muscle constriction - jaw, chest, neck, cortisol surges waking me several times at night with heart racing, blurry eyesight / visual snow, neuropathic pain, burning/numbness in hands and feet, muscle twitching, light sensitivity, sinuses, temperature disregulation, ear zaps, FEAR, hopelessness, doom and gloom, muscle spasms and tension across whole body, low energy, apathy, depression, constant post nasal drip, ear pain, jaw pain and cracking, tooth pain, burning/tingling/numbing, right rib cage pain FOREVER, lymph congestion, hypersensitivity to many foods and many supplements, bladder/ urination issues, creaky bones, sallow, yellow skin on hands/feet, emotional dysregulation, back pain, vivid dreams, mucus, peeling lips.

 

What's left: Low energy some days, muscle pain, hormone imbalance, GI stuff here and there, eye floaters, peeling, red lips.

 

 

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Thank you for posting your success story and congratulations. I hope i will be able to post a success story too one day.

Stories like this are so helpful and give hope.

50mg daily Zoloft (Sertraline) since March 2011 (For Panic Attacks/Anxiety)
25mg since Nov 2014
0mg since 21st Jan 2015 
Thurs 29th jan; took a one-off dose 20mg fluoxetine in an effort to get rid of withdrawal side effects
Sat 31st jan; in desperation took one off dose 50mg sertraline. Got very anxious and spiraled, so was given 5mg Valium to take every four hours for the weekend until psych appt mon
Mon 2nd feb; psych told me to take 75mg venlafaxine and 1mg lorazepam three times a day
Tuesday 3rd feb; took 12.5mg sertraline and 1mg lorazepam but couldn't take it the full day as instructed by doc.
Plan to follow advice from here and take 12.5mg sertraline daily. I also take b vitamin complex and omega fish oils daily (stopped fish oils and b vits 4th feb as advised. Continuing with 12.5mg sertraline)

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I hope i will be able to post a success story too one day.

I hope you will too! Remember to be kind to yourself.

8/1/07: 200mg Zoloft

6/1/12: begin tapering at 25 mg a month

1/1/13: no meds

1/11/13: reinstate at 50mg

3/1/13: begin tapering at 10mg a month

6/1/13: down to 10mg then back up to 15mg

7/1/13: back up to 25mg a month

8/1/13: begin 3mg a month taper

1/1/14: 5mg Zoloft

2/1/14: No Zoloft

2/1/15: No Zoloft one year

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  • 1 month later...

This is one of my "go to" posts.  One of the posts that help to get me through each day.  It's been almost a year since my last decrease.  I've been holding at 25 milligrams since April 10th, 2014.  Currently in a horrible wave.  Terrible flu like symptoms but it's not the flu.  I guess it'll pass in time.

In December 2008, I hit menopause and had a nervous breakdown. After 6 months, I couldn't take it anymore so in June of 2009 I saw a psychiatrist and was given 100 milligrams of Zoloft. Way too much. That Dr refused to get me off of some of it so I found another Dr. who I'm still with.  She got me down to 50 milligrams.  Pure concentrated hell!  Stayed on 50 milligrams for a few years.

October of 2013 - 44 milligrams.  

January 1st 2014- 37 1/2 milligrams.

March 1st 2014 - 31 milligrams.

April 10 2014 - 25 milligrams.

Yes, my Dr. had me go too much too fast.  Almost a year later, I'm still in withdrawal hell and holding at 25 milligrams.

6 1/2 years in one corner of hell or another and still counting.

 

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  • 1 month later...

A solid success story. That's just great! I want to write one in about 5 months. I'm at just under 7 months right now.

In the mean time, thanks for writing this-success stories are absolute gold here.

Sept 12th 1992-began taking Imipramine (50mgs) for panic attacks.

Stopped Imipramine after 4 months (cold turkey).

7 months later experienced "mysterious" bad flu-like symptoms, although, without upper respiratory problems or fever. Because of this and a day of panic attacks, was put on Prozac (20mgs?) for 2 months and then, when that didn't work-was put back on  Imipramine,  plus Xanax 1 mg (4Xdaily)-October 1993.

March 1999-switched from Imipramine (50mgs) to Celexa.

2008-switched to Pristiq for 3 months, then back to Effexor XR (after bad reaction to the Pristiq).

Sept 1st 2010-Switched from Effexor XR (75mgs) to Effexor Generic (solid form) in preparation for taper.

Nov 15th 2010-Began tapering from 75mgs Effexor Generic.

January 13th 2014-.06mgs

April 17th 2014-      .03mgs

May 11th 2014-       .02mgs

Ended taper October 31st 2014

Oct 4th 2015-11 months post taper and completely back to normal!

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  • 1 month later...

Finally! A true success story in the Success Story sub forum. I am new here and have read many, many posts in this sub forum and this is the first I've read that I would call a real success. Thanks for posting, I was starting to think there was no hop for any of us!

As requested. In the last 3 years to the best of my recollection I first dropped the max dose of Lamictal. Yes I just stopped it was doing absolutely nothing. Then I dropped Lexapro, that was even easier I had been on and off that a dozen times before. There were at least 2 odd off label attempts at anxiety that I won’t be able to remember. Then there was sweet/evil Seroquel. That was the last to go it’s been around 16 months.

Lithium, Prozac, Paxil, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Celexa, Lamictal, Lexapro, Luvox, Viibryd, Brintellix, Pristiq, Zoloft, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Geodon, Abilify, Latuda, Ritalin, Adderall, Valium, Clonazepam, Alprazolam, Propanalol, Spravato

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What a neat success story.  Thank you for sharing all the ups and the downs.  Also, thank you for sharing with us the tools you added to help you get through it all.  That's what I'm trying to do... gather tools.  One of those being this forum.  

Used many anti-depressants over the past 18 years. I C/T from Zoloft (25 mg) and Wellbutrin (150 mg.) (2 weeks apart-May 2015).  
I was also taking Xanax or Clonazipam several times a week.  Quit taking those at the same time as the other two.  
Tapering Amitriptyline since 2/2016.
"I would have despaired if I had not believed I would see the Lord..."  Ps. 27:13-14

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  • 2 months later...

Hello, I  was wondering if anyone had memory problems while on zoloft and concentration did it get better?

Been on 1 year cymbalta, 1 year  pristiq, zoloft 2 years nad seroquel 2 years.Now I've been off everything since February 2015. so 6 months free. Still have insomnia, short term memory problems, brain fog these are the only problems hope they will improve.

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  • 3 months later...

So encouraging to read intelligent and positive success stories. There is so much negative and hellish stuff on many consumer forums, which I suspect may exacerbate some people's anxieties during withdrawal. From what I understand from reputable medical journals and commentators, about 60% of people taking Zoloft will experience moderate to severe 'discontinuation' ( aka withdrawal) symptoms. Others seem to experience withdrawal as, if not symptom-free, at least manageable. I wonder if the hypersensitivity and... dare I say it...hypochondriic tendencies (mea culpa!) of many who suffer anxiety and/or depression may also exacerbate or place undue emphasis on the negative aspects of withdrawal. Speaking personally, I remind myself that if over the course of my 59 years I have survived significant episodes of suicide ideation, crippling anxiety and social phobia...both with and without meds...(and significantly, the death of one of my children) I will be able to manage the effects of withdrawal from nearly 20 years on SSRIs...most recently Zoloft. Perspective and insight is everything, even if it sometimes goes awry! Cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness are great tools to think differently...Try not to expect or accept the worst. Wishing everyone success!

1994 Prozac for major depression (not well tolerated - precipitated agitation and hypomania)

1995-2005: various ADM trials and 'mood stabilisers' for suspected bipolar 2 (Avanza, Effexor, zyprexa, seroquel, lamictal). Not well tolerated and discontinued .

2006-2015: Zoloft. Various doses. 50, 75, 100 mg. Twice attempted to discontinue but resumed due to W/D (at time assumed to be relapse)

2000 - present. Xanax for anxiety/agitation. PIP as needed. No dependence issues.

2015: Tapered from 50 mg Zoloft over 6 months. Now using 5HTP & Vit B6 to assist with withdrawals. Still taking Xanax as required for anxiety and agitation.

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  • 5 months later...

I really like this success story and reading about your successful "progressive taper". This makes a lot of sense. If you taper too fast and go off, just reinstate a small amount and start the taper again. Just keep doing this until your finally off. I just had to reinstate and this will also be my "go to" post as I continue tapering Trazodone and then Remeron. Thanks for posting this. Marie.

10/13--10/14 Ambien. Started tapering 1/14  Jumped 10/14.  Done.                                                                              

3/14        7.5 Remeron  still taking this.                              

2/14         75 Trazodone   -    Tapered by dry cutting all the way down.

1/16        4 mg Trazodone  -  Jumped. Bad mistake. Got hit with late withdrawal 6 weeks later. Had to reinstate.

4/16        Reinstated 1 mg, updose to 2 mg Trazodone

2/19        .04 Trazodone. Walked off.  Done.

10/3/19  Started 7.5 Mirtazapine taper cut to .073 gram weight, pill weighs .076

4/5/20    New Mirtazapine Taper - Compound Liquid 7.35 mg April '20, 7.25 mg May, 7.05 mg June, 6.99 mg June, 6.78 mg July, 6.57 mg Aug, Sept 6.35 mg, Sept 6.24 mg, Sept 6.21 mg, Oct 5.99 mg, Oct 5.90 mg, Oct 5.70 mg.

1/11/21 6.05 mg Messed up taper due to syringe change. Must remember the 1 ml syringe contains 1.5mg! 1/16/21 5.99 mg

2/21 5.75 mg, 3/21 5.6 mg, 4/7 5.45, 4/14 5.30, 5/12 5.15, 5/25/21 4.99 mg, 6/29 4.87 mg, 7/14/21 4.74 mg, 8/5 4.62 mg 8/17 4.5 mg, 8/30 4.38 mg,9/16 4.26 mg,10/9 4.17 mg.

 

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  • 1 year later...

Dear Powerpuff how are you? A little update will be appreciated.Thank you.

Cold turkeyed risperidone (1m.g)and trihexyphenidyl combination drug out of ignorance,In August 2016 after one month use.

Withdrawal symptoms settled at dreamful,disturbing sleep.

Thus introduced to olanzapine for sleep.Started using olanzapine out of ignorance.

Tapering olanzapine 10 m.g from February 2017.

May 2018 :Still suffering dreams,Still tapering olanzapine at 0.625.100ml water+2.5 mg olanzapine. June 2018 22.5ml=0.57mg.July 2018 20ml,August 2018-17.5ml,September 2018-15ml,October 2018 10 ml,December 2018 7 ml, BrassMonkey slide method so far at lower doses.2 nd December cold turkeyed , only to reach minure doses as reinstatement to cutshort endless tapering process.4rth December started 1ml.

Almost no symptoms and sleep is better,So started 0.5 ml from 17-12-2018.

"0"from31-12-18.Re birth happened from 10- 2020,as rejuvenation took whole2019.Completely recovered now.

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Touchtheclouds87

Thank you for this

 

I'm beginning to taper my meds & there are not enough success stories online. It motivates me to read this

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  • 6 months later...

Nice story-🙂
I'm tapering zoloft now.

March-2017-Dec-2017 ativanCT /reinstated ativan 1mg tapered 2 months/June 2017-April 2018 zyprexa 10mg switched to seroquel 200-300mg in april 2018/dec-2017-present zoloft 100mg/ quit seroquel 200-300mg cold turkey May 6 2018 reinstated seroquel 100mg around May 25 2018 since then tapered to 50mg zoloft and 50 mg of seroquel presently other medications Testosterone cypionate 2oomg every 4 days

UPDATE -August 20 2018--october 20 2018 tapered off Testosterone/Nov 7 2018 --Dec 20 2018 Lamictal micro dose 2.50mg 1 1/2 weeks then reduced to 1.25 then fast tapered as it became paridoxial.nausea- racing thoughts- agitation and insomnia.

August 28 2018 to Present Cannabis indica micro dose PM bedtime only.

Presently Seroquel 37.5 mg bedtime /Zoloft 47mg morning

May 2018-Present Multivitamin/ Bcomplex/Vit C 1000MG/B12 1000MCG/Fish oils 2grams/

Jan 2019-Trace mineral liquid low dose

Update dec 2019 -29mg of zoloft tapering/Seroquel 37.5 holding/1 or 2  ativan 1mg a month as needed if that.

Black seed oil-caprylic acid-/b complex/b12/multi/D/E/melatonin

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  • 4 months later...
  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi there,

 

The staff at SA are wondering how you are.  We'd love to hear how you are doing now.   Would you mind dropping by and giving an update?

 

Thanks.

CC

So close to the end!!!

🏁

Current from 16 October 2021:  Pristiq 0.005mg

ADs since ~1992:  25+ years - 1 unknown, Prozac (muscle weakness), Zoloft; citalopram (pooped out) CTed (very sick for 2.5 wks a few months after); Pristiq:  50mg 2012, 100mg beg 2013 (Serotonin Toxicity)  Tapering Oct 2015 

My full tapering program     My Intro (goes to my tapering graph)    My website

PLEASE NOTE:  I am not a medical professional.  I provide information and make suggestions.

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