What is Zoloft?
Zoloft is one of the most popular antidepressants in the United States. It is the brand name for sertraline, a drug that alleviates depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic and anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. In addition, doctors sometimes prescribe Zoloft off-label to treat eating disorders and insomnia as well. Zoloft Withdrawal treatment will be able to help you in case you have developed a Zoloft dependency.
This drug is known for making people develop a dependency on it, for this reason when a person tries to stop using it may experience withdrawal effects. According to the scientific piece ‘Orthostatic hypotension induced by sertraline withdrawal’, this medicine may also lead to hypertension problems as an effect of withdrawal.
This research showed that “A patient receiving sertraline for depression developed dizziness and orthostatic hypotension on repeated attempts to discontinue the drug. All other organic factors were ruled out. The hypotension was proved to be secondary to sertraline by repeated rechallenges. After a variety of attempted treatments, the agent was discontinued successfully through an extended titration period.”
Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a medication that stabilizes serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates and balances emotions, so many low serotonin levels suffer from depression and other mental disorders. SSRIs work by blocking the brain’s neurons from absorbing serotonin.
As a result, more serotonin is available to facilitate connections between neurons, relieving conditions that arise from a shortage of neurotransmitters. As a result, people with healthy serotonin levels experience better emotions, sleep more efficiently, and enjoy more incredible energy and interest in life.
Zoloft is a prescription drug that exists in the form of a pill, tablet, or liquid. In most cases, a person who uses the medication properly will take it only once a day. Zoloft is generally safe, and research has proven that it can be an effective source of treatment. However, Zoloft also carries risks for misuse, dependence, withdrawal, and overdose.
Since Zoloft is a long-term medication, there is no inherent danger in taking it for months or even years. However, since it’s a mind-altering drug, it can cause dependence. When a person becomes unable to feel normal or get through the day without taking Zoloft, they’ve become dependent on the medication. There is a debate about whether Zoloft is addictive because there is no evidence that people who take Zoloft ever have cravings for it. Nevertheless, people who stop taking Zoloft can experience withdrawal.
To avoid withdrawal, some people may continue to use Zoloft even though they believe they no longer need it. In some cases, they might “doctor shop” for more Zoloft prescriptions or buy the medication illegally, all to keep away withdrawal symptoms. This cycle of withdrawal and relapse is characteristic of an addiction disorder. Fortunately, addiction to any prescription drug can be cured with medically supervised detox and therapy at a rehab facility.
Zoloft Side Effects
Like all medications, Zoloft addiction may cause some side effects. The most common side effects of Zoloft are not long-lasting or life-threatening, but there are cases where the medication can cause more serious problems. The most common side effects of Zoloft include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Nervousness and restlessness
- Stomach pain
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Loss of appetite and libido
The FDA has issued a black box warning for Zoloft. A black box warning is a notification about a dangerous potential effect of a prescription drug. According to the FDA, Zoloft can provoke or aggravate suicidal thoughts in children and young adults. For this reason, the FDA has not approved Zoloft to treat depression in children.
It is unusual for someone to suffer an allergic reaction to Zoloft, but if someone does have an allergic reaction to the medication they must receive medical attention. The symptoms of an allergic reaction to Zoloft are trouble breathing, swelling, and hives. Additionally, health care professionals recommend avoiding alcohol or illegal drugs while taking Zoloft. They also warn that pregnant women who take Zoloft risk giving birth to children with hypertension and neonatal withdrawal.
Zoloft Withdrawal is a form of SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome. This condition will affect about 20% of people who use an SSRI. Since Zoloft has a short half-life (the length of time a drug stays in the bloodstream before it leaves the body), when someone decides to stop taking Zoloft, its effects quickly wear off.
For this reason, if a person suddenly stops taking Zoloft, their serotonin levels will abruptly decline. That’s why health care professionals often wean their clients off the medication by gradually reducing the amount they take until they completely stop, a method sometimes called a “tapering strategy.”
The brain will adjust to post-Zoloft serotonin levels, but the body may react adversely to lower amounts of serotonin in the nervous system until it does. The symptoms of SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome (Zoloft Withdrawal) usually last for one to three weeks. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on how long a person has taken Zoloft. In many cases, people will experience rebound depression or anxiety when they stop taking the medication.
Symptoms Of Zoloft Withdrawal
- Lack of Concentration
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Tingling Sensations in the skin
While these may be the most common symptoms, SSRI withdrawal is known to affect many of the body’s systems. The full range of potential withdrawal symptoms include:
- Digestive. You may experience nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, or appetite loss.
- Balance. You may become dizzy or lightheaded, sometimes making it difficult to walk.
- Sleep problems. You may have nightmares, unusual dreams, excessive/vivid dreams, or insomnia.
- Overall. You may have flu-like symptoms including headache, muscle pain, weakness, and tiredness.
- Mood. You may have anxiety, agitation, panic, suicidal ideation, depression, irritability, anger, mania, or mood swings.
- Bizarre sensations. You may experience brain zaps (like an electrical shock or shiver in your brain), pins and needles, ringing in the ears, strange tastes, or hypersensitivity to sound.
- Heat tolerance. You may have excessive sweating, flushing, or intolerance to high temperatures.
- Motor control. You may have tremors, muscle tension, restless legs, unsteady gait, or difficulty controlling speech and chewing movements.
For most people, sertraline withdrawal begins within three to four days of your last dose. The duration of SSRI withdrawal can vary, but you can expect it to last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, however, sometimes it can last much longer. Withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person. Some people have no symptoms at all, whereas others have symptoms severe enough to interfere with their typical responsibilities at home, work, or school.
If you do have severe withdrawal symptoms, it does not mean that you are addicted to sertraline. Addiction is characterized by the pattern of the use of substances in the face of adverse consequences. Withdrawal can happen to anyone taking sertraline for a few months or longer.
Zoloft Withdrawal Timeline & Symptoms Durations
Zoloft Withdrawal symptoms from sertraline can vary in severity and duration based on the period of use, dosage, individual physiology, and the length of time taken to taper off. Gradually tapering off Zoloft under a doctor’s supervision can reduce or avoid the symptoms altogether. Usually, sertraline’s dose is gradually reduced over around four weeks. A sample taper schedule is reducing the dose by 50 mg every 5–7 days to a final dose of 25–50 mg before the drug is stopped.
A gradual reduction in sertraline dosage will be most effective for managing and controlling withdrawal symptoms. Reducing the sertraline dosage slowly allows your brain to gradually adjust to lower amounts of medication, finally adapting to no medication at all.
Understanding what to expect in terms of symptoms will also help in managing Zoloft Withdrawal. Many symptoms are normal, and knowing what they are will reduce anxiety about those symptoms, making them easier to deal with mentally. Talk therapy and other non-medication treatments should be continued normally to treat the psychological withdrawal symptoms of sertraline.
Exercise may also be helpful. Exercise is widely known to improve both mental and physical wellness. Eating a healthy diet may also help. Avoid foods known to increase jitteriness, like caffeine and sweets, and consume healthy, whole foods. Eating a nutrient-rich, well-balanced diet may help with both physiological and psychological issues associated with withdrawal.
It is possible to overdose on Zoloft. An overdose occurs when someone takes too much of the medication. Although many symptoms of a Zoloft overdose are uncomfortable, an overdose is not necessarily a life-threatening emergency. However, in severe cases, an overdose can cause organ damage and may even turn fatal. The milder and more common symptoms of an overdose include:
- Increased Heart Rate
- Nausea And Vomiting
- Shaking And Tremors
When someone suffers a severe Zoloft overdose, they may faint or experience delirium and hallucinations. The overdose could also damage a person’s heart and pancreas. Furthermore, a Zoloft overdose can become serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome is the body’s reaction to an excess of serotonin.
The syndrome is rare, but when it does occur, it usually begins within one day of taking too much of an SSRI. Serotonin syndrome is a medical emergency that causes high body temperatures, fever, shivering, muscle tightness, confusion, and potentially lethal seizures.
Reclaim your life from Zoloft Dependence with Dual Diagnosis Rehab Washington
Zoloft Dependence is a severe condition that can cause health, social, and even economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up dual diagnosis rehab Washington can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this condition with professional and safe primary mental health care to ease the uncomfortable effects of Zoloft Withdrawal. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
We Level Up Washington Mental Health Center: Primary Mental Health Treatment with Secondary Co-Occurring Treatments
The We Level Up Washington primary mental health center stands ready to help. Offering secondary treatment programs for underlying conditions like Zoloft addiction that frequently fuels harmful behaviors. Taking that first step to get the professional support you need can be life-transforming.
We know how mental health disorders and secondary co-occurring substance abuse diagnoses directly affect one another. The We Level Up Washington treatment center provides recovery programs through science-based mental health treatments that can help you feel better. Call us now for a free mental health evaluation!
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 Amsden GW, Georgian F. Orthostatic hypotension induced by sertraline withdrawal. Pharmacotherapy. 1996 Jul-Aug;16(4):684-6. PMID: 8840377. – National Library of Medicine (pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)