Zoloft stop taking
What are the symptoms of Zoloft withdrawal?
Sertraline, which is available under the brand name Zoloft, is an antidepressant belonging to a group of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). When stopping antidepressants such as Zoloft, people may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Sertraline is one of the most common antidepressants a doctor may prescribe. When a person is ready to discontinue an antidepressant, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, which a doctor may refer to as discontinuation syndrome.
Some research notes that roughly 20% of people may develop discontinuation symptoms following a reduction in dose. Other sources suggest that up to 80% of people who abruptly stop antidepressants may experience withdrawal symptoms.
Common discontinuation symptoms of stopping sertraline may include nausea, headaches, and tingling skin. For this reason, when a person decides to discontinue sertraline, they should discuss this with their doctor.
The doctor may recommend gradually lowering the dose to reduce or avoid symptoms. It is not advisable for a person to reduce or stop their dosage without their doctor’s approval.
In this article, we will discuss Zoloft withdrawal symptoms, their duration, and when to see a doctor.
Sertraline, which is available under brand names such as Zoloft and Lustral, is a type of SSRI antidepressant. In 1991, the United States approved sertraline to help treat:
- major depressive disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- panic disorder
- social anxiety disorder
- premenstrual dysphoric disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder in children, adults, and adolescents 6–17 years old
In some cases, a doctor may also prescribe Zoloft off-label to help treat bulimia nervosa and generalized anxiety disorder.
Similar to many other antidepressants, sertraline has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It alerts doctors and patients about potential drug effects, such as suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
It is relatively common for people to experience some withdrawal symptoms when stopping or tapering antidepressants. Some research notes that 46% of people would describe their withdrawal symptoms as severe.
A person may experience withdrawal symptoms due to chemical changes in the brain. The body adjusts to changes that an antidepressant such as Zoloft may cause. Stopping or reducing the antidepressant can throw the brain into a state of imbalance. This can have a physical and mental impact.
The likelihood of developing withdrawal symptoms may relate to the half-life of the antidepressant. The term half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for the body to metabolize 50% of a medication’s active ingredients and eliminate them from the body.
Typically, drugs with a shorter half-life may indicate more potential withdrawal problems. Sertraline has a relatively short half-life of approximately 24 hours and has a moderate risk of causing withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms may occur a few days after a person begins to taper their dose and may last for 1–3 weeks. The severity of symptoms will depend on how long a person has been taking sertraline.
Common symptoms associated with reducing sertraline dose may include:
- mood changes
- brain zaps
Typically, antidepressants with shorter half-lives are more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms due to how quickly the body may eliminate them and cause changes in the level of serotonin in the brain.
This also means a person may experience symptoms quicker compared with an antidepressant with a longer half-life. Zoloft has a half-life of roughly 22–35 hours. This rate can vary due to numerous factors, such as the speed of a person’s metabolism.
While tapering Zoloft, people could experience discontinuation symptoms for up to 3 weeks. When stopping antidepressants, some symptoms may persist for up to 6 weeks and occasionally may continue for up to a year.
Always speak with a doctor about any new symptoms that occur when tapering off an antidepressant.
After a person decides they are ready to discontinue Zoloft, a doctor will usually suggest a tapering strategy to wean a person off Zoloft gradually before stopping completely.
The length of time a person has been taking Zoloft will usually determine the length of the tapering strategy. Typically, tapering lasts 4 weeks, but a doctor may suggest tapering the medication over 6–8 weeks to reduce the risk or severity of symptoms.
In other cases, a doctor may suggest switching to another antidepressant that may be easier to wean off or is less likely to cause potential withdrawal symptoms.
In addition to tapering, following self-care tips may also ease the process of weaning off Zoloft. This can include:
- telling family and friends about plans to come off antidepressants
- having a healthy diet
- getting adequate sleep
- getting regular exercise
A doctor may also recommend counseling or therapy if the underlying condition remains after stopping the medication. This may help a person to understand, manage, and overcome the underlying cause of their mood disorder.
Click here to learn more about how to stop antidepressants safely.
Antidepressants such as Zoloft typically include a black box warning as they may worsen symptoms of depression or suicidal ideation and cause unusual changes in behavior.
Caregivers and people taking antidepressants should watch for certain signs and symptoms and talk with a doctor if they occur. These may include:
Sertraline may also interact with other medications or supplements and increase the risk of having side effects. A person should talk with a doctor before taking sertraline if they are currently taking:
- medications that change their heartbeat
- other medications for depression
- St. John’s wort
Additionally, Zoloft may result in problems if a person:
- has heart problems
- has previously taken other antidepressants
- has glaucoma
- has epilepsy
- has diabetes
- is trying to become pregnant, is pregnant, or breastfeeding
It is not uncommon for people to mistake discontinuation symptoms for symptoms of relapse. This is particularly important to know about antidepressants as discontinuing an antidepressant can increase the risk of relapse for anxiety and depression.
Stopping antidepressants can result in rebound depression, or symptoms returning worse than before. It is important for a doctor to closely monitor and determine the difference to help prevent relapse and treatment failure.
A person should always discuss coming off antidepressants or changing dosages with their doctor before making any changes to their dosage.
It is important to talk with a doctor immediately if withdrawal symptoms are severe, concerning, disabling, or last longer than a few weeks. Additionally, it is important to seek help if a person experiences suicidal thoughts, thoughts of self-harm, or any other unexpected or concerning symptoms.
A person should also seek help if they believe they are presenting symptoms of a relapse.
Sertraline, or Zoloft, is an SSRI antidepressant that doctors frequently prescribe. When a person decides to discontinue an antidepressant such as Zoloft, they should speak with their doctor and follow their advice on discontinuing, such as following a tapering schedule.
There is a moderate risk for people experiencing withdrawal symptoms while reducing their dose of Zoloft. Common symptoms may include agitation, tremors, and headaches.
In addition to tapering their dose, people can also try self-care tips, such as exercising, getting regular sleep, and having a healthy diet, to reduce potential discontinuation symptoms further.
Zoloft Withdrawal: Symptoms and Coping
Sertraline, more commonly known as its brand name, Zoloft, is an antidepressant prescribed for patients with major depression. It is also prescribed for anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, and other mental health conditions.
Zoloft is found to be most effective after four to six weeks of taking the medication.
However, if for some reason you suddenly stop taking Zoloft, you may go through Zoloft withdrawal.
Also referred to as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, Zoloft withdrawal causes flu-like symptoms.
Many patients report feelings of discomfort, nausea, irritability, body aches, dizziness, and other more serious symptoms.
In this article, we will discuss the symptoms of Zoloft withdrawal, how to cope with Zoloft withdrawal, and when you should go see a healthcare provider.
What is Zoloft?
Zoloft (Sertraline) is an antidepressant, part of a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991 to treat major depression and other major anxiety disorders. It works to increase the availability of serotonin in the brain.
Zoloft is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 16 million American adults are living with major depression, and 7 million American adults have a generalized anxiety disorder.
Zoloft is used to treat the following disorders:
- Major depressive disorders in adults and children 10 years of age and older, and adolescents aged 6-17 years
- Social anxiety
- Panic disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder II
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Some eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder in adults, children, and adolescents aged 6-17 years
How Zoloft works
Zoloft makes more serotonin available in the brain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that gets quickly absorbed by the neurons in the brain.
Essentially, the drug works as an inhibitor to slow down the fast absorption of serotonin.
By slowing down the neuron’s absorption of serotonin, this allows your brain to transmit more messages, effectively increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter in the brain.
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Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome
If a patient decides to discontinue Zoloft, they may experience Zoloft withdrawal. This syndrome is also commonly referred to as discontinuation syndrome.
In fact, 46% of people report experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, particularly if the medication was stopped suddenly. Rest assured that you and your doctor can make a plan to ease your transition off the antidepressant.
Symptoms of Zoloft Withdrawal
When a patient stops taking Zoloft, the medication gradually leaves the body.
A few days after discontinuing Zoloft, most of the medication will leave the body but the symptoms of Zoloft withdrawal can last longer than this.
About 80% of people report withdrawal symptoms after abruptly stopping Zoloft.
That’s why it’s extremely important to not miss a dose of your medication and to speak to your healthcare provider before stopping Zoloft.
A sudden absence of the medication in the body can make you feel “off”, and your body may struggle to adapt to the change in serotonin levels.
If you stop taking Zoloft, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Paresthesias (tingling sensation on the skin)
You should not stop taking Zoloft unless instructed to do so by your healthcare provider.
If you accidentally miss a dose, take the medication as soon as possible. If you are nearing your next scheduled dose, discard the missed dose and take your next dose at the regularly scheduled time.
Do not double your prescribed dose. Contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist if you have questions about when or if you can take a missed dose..
Tips for Coping with Zoloft Withdrawal
There are many methods to cope with Zoloft withdrawal and ease your transition off the medication.
To avoid experiencing severe withdrawal, most providers recommend gradually reducing your daily medication dose before stopping completely. This is also known as a tapering strategy or weaning off your dose.
Depending on your mental health condition, your healthcare provider may suggest switching to a different SSRI before beginning the taper method.
Do not start any new medication for anxiety or depression before discussing the medication with your healthcare provider.
The combination of multiple medications for depression and anxiety can cause very serious health conditions.
Ultimately, there are a variety of coping strategies to ease the severity of Zoloft withdrawal, including tapering off, using counsel or psychotherapy, making lifestyle changes, or taking other prescribed medications.
Closely follow the taper dosage
New research shows that a consistent and slow taper method over several weeks is very effective in reducing withdrawal symptoms.
You should closely follow your healthcare provider’s recommended taper dosage. The length of your taper method will depend on several factors including how long you have taken the medication.
Your tapered dose can last for several weeks to several months depending on the individual patient.
Your healthcare provider may recommend psychotherapy or counseling as an effective coping method for your withdrawal symptoms.
In addition to helping with Zoloft withdrawal symptoms, therapy may help you understand and manage the cause of your depression or anxiety disorder.
Another recommended coping strategy is choosing simple stress-relievers for your day-to-day life.
Getting regular exercise, consistent sleep, and a healthy diet will help you cope with withdrawal as well as your underlying mental health condition.
In addition to these coping methods, having a support system such as a group of friends or family members has positive effects on your mental health.
Over-the-counter medications (OTC)
Your healthcare provider may recommend over-the-counter medications to help you cope with withdrawal.
OTC antihistamines like cetirizine (Zyrtec) and diphenhydramine (Benadryl), or pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) may help minimize your withdrawal symptoms overall.
Be sure to discuss the use of these medications with your healthcare provider.
If symptoms are more severe, your provider may prescribe medications to help with the symptoms.
Keep in communication with your healthcare provider
It’s vital to remain in close contact with your healthcare provider to assist you with your withdrawal symptoms.
Your healthcare provider is available to help you, so keeping them updated about your symptoms will allow them to better treat you.
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When to See a Medical Provider
You should see a healthcare provider if your withdrawal symptoms ever become severe or you start to have suicidal thoughts.
You should discuss a discontinuation method with your healthcare provider and follow this method closely. If you ever experience other concerning withdrawal symptoms, then you should speak to your healthcare provider.
How K Health Can Help
Think you might need a prescription for Zoloft (Sertraline)?
K Health has clinicians standing by 24/7 to evaluate your symptoms and determine if Zoloft is right for you.
Get started with our free assessment, which will tell you in minutes if treatment could be a good fit. If yes, we’ll connect you right to a clinician who can prescribe medication and have it shipped right to your door.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect from Zoloft withdrawal?
Zoloft withdrawal often feels like a sudden drop in serotonin and most patients experience mild to moderate symptoms. You might experience nausea, headaches, dizziness, and irritability. The severity of the symptoms and how long the symptoms will last varies. Due to the many factors involved, no two people will have the same withdrawal symptom experience.
What are some Zoloft withdrawal tips?
You should speak to your healthcare provider about a plan for easing off Zoloft before you stop the medication. Your healthcare provider may recommend a tapering method, which will slowly reduce your daily dosage of the prescription until you are no longer taking it. Following the taper instructions is one of the best things you can do to minimize Zoloft withdrawal.
Is it normal to feel sad from Zoloft withdrawal syndrome?
You may feel a return of some of the depression or anxiety symptoms with Zoloft withdrawal. It is why many patients report feeling like they have relapsed back into their mental health condition. However, it is normal to feel mildly sad, depressed, or anxious. While experiencing mild depression or anxiety symptoms is common, you should be aware of any more severe symptoms. If you experience any suicidal thoughts or thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, seek medical care immediately.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
A Systematic Review Into the Incidence, Severity and Duration of Antidepressant Withdrawal Effects: Are Guidelines Evidence-based?. (2019).
Discontinuation Syndrome and Antidepressants. (2019).
Going off Antidepressants. (2020).
Medication Frequently Asked Questions. (2022).
Sertraline (Zoloft). (2020).
Zoloft withdrawal syndrome - Center for Healthy Youth
Zoloft - what is this drug? The active substance of the drug is sertraline. It belongs to the pharmacological group of antidepressants and is prescribed to patients with the following symptoms: depression, OCD, panic disorders, PTSD, social phobia. Zoloft is a powerful serotonin reuptake inhibitor in human brain cells.
More than 1/3 of people face the dangerous consequences of abrupt withdrawal of Zoloft. In narcology, this phenomenon is called withdrawal syndrome or withdrawal syndrome. The time of onset of symptoms of withdrawal syndrome when used is directly proportional to the half-life of the drug from the body. A drug such as Zoloft is addictive with systematic irregular use, therefore, there is also a Zoloft withdrawal syndrome, which usually occurs 3-5 days after the last use of the drug. The symptoms of Zoloft withdrawal syndrome are quite difficult to recognize, so people think that the disease has returned and start using the medicine again. nine0003
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How to reduce the dose of Zoloft correctly?
The course of treatment with Zoloft usually lasts no more than 8 weeks (about two months). As with the use of other antidepressants, an unreasonable increase in the duration of its use leads to negative consequences for human health. However, even before the period prescribed by the doctor, it is not recommended to stop taking the drug, since the gradual disappearance of symptoms is not a reason to complete the course. How long can I take Zoloft? nine0003
How much Zoloft can I take?
Many patients wonder how much Zoloft should be taken? Naturally, the duration of the course is strictly individual. So, how long can you take Zoloft? Only the attending physician, depending on the symptoms present, will be able to tell you how much Zoloft should be taken in your case. A specialist can prescribe a medication for 6-12 months, but this happens in exceptional cases.
The risk of developing withdrawal symptoms is increased in the following cases:
- abrupt drug withdrawal and removal from the body;
- regular intake over two months;
- excessive anxiety;
- Combination with antihypertensives, allergies, and antipsychotics.
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How to cancel and stop drinking Zoloft?
Zoloft causes a withdrawal syndrome when it is stopped abruptly. This drug affects the processes occurring in the human brain, so you should take the medicine only with a doctor's prescription. How to stop taking the drug and "get off" from Zoloft? To avoid the withdrawal syndrome, the dosage of the medication according to the medical plan is reduced by 25 mg every 14 days. If a stable remission is achieved after a course of treatment, the doctor will stop taking the drug. However, the specialist will cancel the drug if the patient experiences side effects, insomnia and headache from Zoloft are not uncommon. nine0003
In which case the doctor can cancel the medication:
- the patient has a headache;
- causeless sadness, anxiety;
- feeling of devastation;
- nervousness, irritability;
- suicidal tendencies;
- sleep and appetite disorders;
- decrease in concentration.
If a person has lost their appetite or has regular headaches, the doctor begins a gradual process of reducing the dosage. The therapeutic dose is reduced over several weeks, and sometimes months. nine0003
Symptoms of withdrawal after taking
Is it possible to abruptly stop taking the medicine? Abrupt withdrawal of the drug threatens the occurrence of withdrawal or withdrawal. The human body, accustomed to a certain dose of the drug, will respond without an adaptation period. Most often, a deterioration in the patient's health is noted within 2-4 days after the last use. Depending on the individual characteristics and the state of the central nervous system, withdrawal symptoms may be different.
Symptoms and signs of withdrawal
- nausea, vomiting;
- incoordination, balancez.
In some cases, a person will not even feel dangerous signs, and sometimes you may need to call an ambulance for narcological help from the Center for Healthy Youth. Therefore, if you feel a deterioration in the condition, it is worth contacting a doctor who will help reduce the dose and improve overall well-being. nine0003
How long does Zoloft withdrawal last?
Withdrawal symptoms can persist without drug treatment for quite a long time, for several weeks. While taking antidepressants, the activity of neurons changes, so after stopping the drugs, the body needs time to rebuild and adapt to new conditions. The longer the course of treatment was, the longer the rehabilitation period will be. Withdrawal symptoms will not disappear until the active substance of the drug is excreted from the body. If general weakness lasts for a month, you should contact your doctor or specialists from the Healthy Youth Center. nine0003
When does Zoloft start to act and help?
It is important to understand that Zoloft does not begin to act immediately, but after a certain period of time. How long does Zoloft take to work? As a rule, the first positive dynamics begins to be noticeable to the patient only after 2-3 weeks of regular use. The maximum effect is noticeable after 2-3 months of admission.
When choosing antidepressants, it is important to know which medications the patient has previously taken and which medications they are currently taking. Before prescribing an effective remedy that normalizes the work of the central nervous system, the doctor conducts a number of necessary examinations, identifies existing contraindications and prevents side effects. If Zoloft is not recommended for you, the specialist will offer you a wide range of analogues of this drug, including Cipralex, Prozac, Paxil, Cipramil and other equally effective drugs. The drug Velaksin, Amitriptyline, etc. has a similar effect. nine0003
If you experience withdrawal symptoms after taking Zoloft, contact the Healthy Youth Drug Treatment Center for help. We have been treating addictions for over 15 years.
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How to stop taking Zoloft? - Verimed articles
- Drug withdrawal syndrome: when and why it occurs
- Zoloft taper method
- Lifestyle change method (alternative therapy)
For the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders, panic attacks and other disorders of the central nervous system, antidepressants are prescribed, which increase the level of serotonin responsible for emotions and behavior. One of its representatives is Zoloft. How do I stop taking to avoid or alleviate the side effects of stopping the drug? To do this, the doctor prescribes the appropriate method of gradually stopping the antidepressant until it is completely abandoned. nine0003
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Drug withdrawal syndrome: when and why it occurs
When you stop taking a drug that affects brain processes, sometimes a so-called withdrawal syndrome occurs . The first signs appear after 2-3 days. With a single missed dose, they are sometimes observed the next day. The reason for their occurrence is a change in the activity of brain neurons, which need time to restructure their activities without the participation of a medicinal substance. nine0003
"Zoloft" accumulates in the cells of the body, and the method of abandoning it is to gradually reduce the dose of until complete elimination. Moreover, the scheme depends on the duration of treatment and the dose taken at that time.
Symptomatic manifestations will disappear only after the complete elimination of the drug and its metabolites from the blood, within a period of two weeks to 2-3 months, in rare cases even longer. Treating them separately is ineffective. In the worst case, they resume taking Zoloft, and then gradually reduce the dose to get out of it. nine0003
The name of the withdrawal syndrome is not entirely correct: the antidepressant does not cause dependence , and undesirable manifestations are associated exclusively with the restructuring of the nervous system in the new conditions of refusing it.
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The method of gradually reducing the dose of "Zoloft"
Sometimes there are good reasons to stop therapy with Zofolt, despite the fact that it is effective. Reasons to stop the regimen or change to another antidepressant:
- Prolonged and/or severe unwanted symptoms: nausea, dry mouth, chills, drowsiness or insomnia, weight loss and libido.
- Emerging depressive states, feeling of emptiness and apathy, loss of interest in activities that previously brought pleasure, suicidal thoughts, impaired concentration and sleep. nine0016
- Complete cure, according to the doctor, with a long therapeutic course (six months to a year).
Important! The action of an antidepressant is noticeable only after 2-3 weeks, so you should carefully consider the sensations and not confuse side effects from it with symptoms of indications for treatment and relapses of the disease.
The main rule of the method is slowly and gradually. This may take a long time (up to several months). nine0013 Violation of the schedule prescribed by the doctor may cause disorders that increase every day:
- upset stool, vomiting or urge to it, nausea;
- sleep disturbance, with insomnia or nightmares;
- dizziness, fainting, difficulty keeping balance;
- disturbance of sensation and coordination, trembling;
- causeless excitement, irritability, anxiety.
The usual dose reduction is 25 mg every two weeks for a total duration of 4-6 weeks. The doctor has the right to change the duration of the exit scheme and dosage, depending on the course of the process and the patient's condition. For control it is recommended to keep records of the date and dosage daily, as well as the onset or passage of symptoms, their duration and manifestations, so that the doctor can distinguish side effects from relapses.
Side effects appear immediately and disappear after 1-2 weeks, and relapses appear after 2-3 weeks and increase up to 2-4 weeks. If they last longer than a month, a consultation with a doctor is necessary.
Constantly keep in touch with the doctor, keep him informed about a change in state. Only he can make a professional conclusion about continuing the regimen or prescribing another drug of a similar effect if Zoloft causes unpleasant disorders or relapse on a given schedule. The decision to replace an antidepressant is influenced by the condition of the patient, the cost of the drug, its tolerability and interaction with other drugs, etc.
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Lifestyle modification method (alternative therapy)
An alternative method for the withdrawal of Zoloft antidepressant : how to stop taking it immediately after the end of the therapeutic course with a stable positive result .
- Sports daily for 30 min. Regular exercise contributes to the production of endorphins, which strengthen the nervous system and normalize the psyche. Relief from depression and other diseases of the central nervous system. nine0016
- Healthy diet. Introduce foods containing omega-3 fatty acids into your diet as an additional treatment for depression: cabbage, spinach, walnuts, oily fish, soybean oil. It is possible to use Omega-3 in its pure form (purchased at a pharmacy).
- Keep a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time. For a good rest, avoid overexcitation, drinking alcohol and coffee before bedtime.
- More sun exposure to reduce expression of depression by increasing serotonin levels under the influence of sunlight. nine0016
- Use the services of a psychotherapist to learn techniques for managing thoughts, stress, and behavior.
- Acupuncture and meditation. Additional methods of influencing the nerve centers and controlling self-consciousness. Deep slow breathing increases oxygen supply and reduces anxiety.
Still have questions about how to reduce the side effects of taking Zoloft and how to stop taking ? Professional consultation in our clinic will help to solve them! nine0003
- Dynamics of anxious depression in the treatment of modern antidepressants (tianeptine (coaxil), sertraline (zoloft): dissertation ... candidate of medical sciences: 14.