Zoloft Withdrawal: Signs, Symptoms, And Sertraline Treatment Timeline

withdrawal from zoloft and detoxification

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Zoloft is a popular brand name of a sertraline drug. It helps to battle depression, and a large number of people all over the world have benefited from its use with varying levels of success. Consequently, the minority that may not find the drug useful for their situation may decide to stop using it. In the same vein, even people who get benefits from the drug may choose to come off it just because they don’t want to be hooked on it for life.

However, withdrawal from an antidepressant is not so straightforward, and if a person is not ready for the symptoms that may follow, it could be a challenging experience.

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 Table of Contents

The Sertraline Withdrawal Process

When a patient suddenly stops using a drug such as sertraline, antidepressant withdrawal will come into play. This is especially valid in situations where the patient has been taking the medication for at least six weeks.

How Long do Zoloft Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

The issue will be addressed in more detail further on in this article, but an important thing to note is that some antidepressants have a higher likelihood of causing withdrawal symptoms than others. This article will only be addressing sertraline withdrawal symptoms.

Sertraline Withdrawal Symptoms

There are varying possible symptoms that may be exhibited by a patient after they stop using sertraline. A single patient will only show some of these symptoms, and a good number of them are associated with SSRIs generally. With that said, here’s a comprehensive sertraline withdrawal symptoms list:

  • Change in appetite
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Getting suicidal thoughts
  • Lapses in memory
  • Panic attacks
  • Irritation
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Having issues with concentrating
  • Brain zaps
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Odd dreams
  • Crying spells
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Extra-sensitivity
  • Relapse
  • Sweating at night
  • Sudden hot flashes through the body
  • Exhibiting flu-like symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Body cramps
  • Muscular pain
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Vertigo
  • Mood swings
  • Weakness

Factors Influencing Zoloft Withdrawal

woman with a headache is sitting on the bedRegarding Zoloft withdrawal, there are no rules that suggest that every patient will exhibit the same symptoms. When people try weaning off Zoloft, some will have a tougher time of it than others. The reactions of the patient depend on some factors, some of which are:

  • Doses
  • Duration
  • Withdrawal Method
  • Physiology

Doses

The average daily Zoloft dosage used by most people falls within 50 mg-200 mg. Theoretically, a patient that was taking a smaller dose each day would find it easier to stop using the drug than someone that was taking the maximum recommended dose regularly. Consequently, the Zoloft withdrawal symptoms in the former would naturally be less severe than with the latter.

Duration

As is with the case with most drugs that exhibit withdrawal symptoms, the longer it has been, the harder it gets. However, there are bound to be exceptions. Withdrawal from Zoloft would be easier for a patient that has only been taking the drugs for a few weeks compared to another that has been on it for years. In the case of the latter, withdrawal side effects of Zoloft will be stronger than with the former. According to study published on NCBI, SSRI withdrawal symptoms can appear up to 90 weeks.

Detox Method

The best detox approach to withdrawal from antidepressants is to do it slowly. It is not advised to go cold turkey as this may harm the body system instead of repair it. Sertraline withdrawal is no exception to this rule. It is advisable to taper off slowly by reducing dosage strengths over the course of a few weeks or months, giving the body system enough time to adapt to the change.

If the patient stops suddenly, the body is likely to exhibit severe symptoms of Zoloft withdrawal because it is in a state of confusion. It has become accustomed to receiving doses of the drug, and a sudden habit change would be harmful.

Physiology

The physiological nature of the patient also plays a part in perceived recovery timelines. Some people naturally exhibit a level of resistance to withdrawal symptoms from drugs, and they may not even experience any sertraline withdrawal side effects. On the flip side, the physiological nature of some other people ensures that they react extraordinarily to withdrawal from these types of drugs.

All of these factors can influence the severity or timeline of withdrawal symptoms from Zoloft.

Supplements for Managing Withdrawal Symptoms

Different sources will give different advice about how to wean off Zoloft. With that in mind, it is fair to point out the fact that some people will still need some extra help in managing these symptoms when they do show up. This is where supplements come in.

Some specific supplements are well-known for their effectiveness in reducing the effects of withdrawal. These are not just random multivitamins, so it is essential to know which sertraline alternatives to purchase. First of all, there are a few things to note before purchasing supplements:

  • The patient needs to identify if the Zoloft detox process is complete or if it is still in progress. If it is complete, then it is okay to use supplements. However, patients that are still tapering off are advised to resist the urge to use supplements because they may interfere with the antidepressant drug itself. A consultation with a qualified doctor should provide information about which supplements may interfere with antidepressant medication.
  • Additionally, people that are on medications involving other drugs may not feel the full effects of withdrawal from antidepressants. It means that care needs to be taken to make sure that none of these drugs interfere with the supplements that are taken, although the need for them is already reduced.
  • If withdrawal is going smoothly, supplements may not be necessary. They should only be used in cases where the patient is having difficulties with withdrawal.
  • Proper dosages must be adhered to when taking supplements. Too much or too little could have adverse effects on the entire situation. Taking into account the sertraline withdrawal schedule, it is advised that a patient should only take the minimum required dose needed to help with the withdrawal symptoms.

With that being said, here is a top ten list of supplements that have proven to be useful in managing withdrawal symptoms caused by Zoloft:

  • Activated charcoal withdrawal supplements
  • Melatonin
  • Glutathione
  • Fish Oil or Krill Oil
  • Magnesium
  • L-Tyrosine or L-Phenylalanine
  • Himalayan Salt or Sea Salt
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan
  • St. John’s Wort

All of these supplements have varying doses which would affect the duration that the patient is expected to take them for. The important thing is to take the right dose – don’t go overboard or under-compensate. Don’t drink any alcohol with sertraline. Don’t consume marijuana and Zoloft either while one is on withdrawal therapy.

Zoloft Withdrawal Timeline

Just like the severity of the symptoms, the Zoloft withdrawal timeline varies from person to person. For some people, the symptoms are not exhibited until a few weeks after the last dose of the drug was taken. For other people, they have gone through the symptoms and overcome them within the same period.

Here is the usual timeline of the entire withdrawal process:

Day 1-3: the first few withdrawal symptoms show up. For users that are tapering off gradually, the early symptoms are usually mild.

Day 4-5: the symptoms increase in number or intensity. Symptoms such as vertigo, nausea, and fever may be included. Naturally, patients that have been ingesting higher doses of the anti-depressants will have the most intense reactions at this stage.

Day 6-21: during this period, the symptoms usually hit their peak and begin the gradual process of subsiding. Most antidepressant drugs have a withdrawal timeline that cycles through within three weeks, and Zoloft is no exception.

Day 22 and above: depending on other factors, some patients may experience a longer withdrawal timeline than is the norm.

How Long Does Zoloft Withdrawal Last?

Zoloft is one of the anti-depressants with longer half-lives. It means that sertraline stays in patient’s body for a more extended period than short half-life antidepressant drugs. According to the study conducted by the Food and Drug Administration department of the U.S.A, the average half-life of Zoloft starts from 26 hours depending on the strength of the dosages.

What is the Best Way to Withdraw from Zoloft?

According to mechanism of action of sertraline, is highly recommended to the patient to taper off the drug gradually. Do not suddenly stop the dosages in a single day. Reduce the strength of the doses day-to-day until the lowest dose possible and then stop.

For best results, it is recommended that patients who are looking for the withdrawal process to consider registering with a rehab program. Older people, teenagers and pregnant women on Zoloft are in high-risk groups. The positive effect that deals directly with people who completely empathize with the situation cannot be overstated. Additionally, they will be able to provide more information and insight into anything else that the patient may need help with.

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View Sources
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29758951
  2. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/019839s070,020990s032lbl.pdf

Comments

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  • ana
    Hi-My name is Ana. I decided to stop taking Zoloft 60 days ago. I’m still suffering the withdrawal effects. This is horrible. How long does it takes to take this drug out of your body? I was taking the max dose for more than 5 years. Please help.
    • larry smith
      Depression is why your doctor gave to in the first place. You say that when you stopped taking it you got depressed. Go figure! What made you want to stop? Maybe, maybe, just maybe you should not have stopped in the first place. Did you talk with the doctor that prescribed it? Did you talk with any doctor? Are you now glad that you stopped? Do you really feel better now? Go see a doctor BEFORE you stop.
    • Adriana
      Hi Marie,I am reading on advice on how to quit on Sertraline. As I have recently started my job that I truly like, I don’t want to jeopardise anything by quitting yet. But I really want to follow your journey. Please do update on how it goes.Best regards, Adriana
  • Tia
    I stopped 25ml after 3 weeks and I am having horrible site effects. How long do I have to suffer please help
  • Laurie
    i have been taking zoloft and welbutrin for about 6 years. I was taking 200mg of zoloft and i have been slowly tapering off. I decreased each dose by 50 mg every 2-3 months and felt fine. I took my last dose of zoloft a week ago and i feel horrible. Does anyone know why i didn’t feel any different on a smaller dose but with no zoloft at all I am having horrible withdrawal symptoms. I don’t feel depressed but like i have the flu and my lips are tingly and it feels like my brain is rattling around. so bizarre. Does anyone have any insight?
  • Nina
    I had tapered the dose over 2 weeks. Off now completely for about 2 weeks. I was on Zoloft 100 mg once daily for years. Lately very depressed, dizzy, spacey, and hot flashes. I’m 63 yrs old and many of my stressors in life have decreased. I’m retired and thought I would try to get off the Zoloft.
  • Kathy
    I had been in Zoloft minimum dose of 10mg for 9 years. I moved and my prescription ran out and this was such a minimal dose, I thought I would quit cold turkey. This is day 18 of withdrawal. I am just today not as fatigued as I was. I have had extreme brain surges, dizziness, sweats and the flu like symptoms. Had I known this drug had this extreme withdrawals, I would never had taken. I would have and did take Prozac prior to this medication and had absolutely no withdrawal symptoms when I stopped taking. In my opinion this is another addictive medicine that is being urged by pharma to doctors. I don’t know the incentive big pharmacy is giving doctors, but I am from West Virginia and this seems to me like a pill mill addictive drug, like OxyContin. Shame on big pharma for not being up front about the addiction of this med. I think regulation should be required so the doctor has to verbally warn you of withdrawal complications from this med. best of luck to you all on your withdrawal and hope God has mercy on us and it gets easier.
  • Anna
    Was on Zoloft .25 for 4 weeks, the most miserable 4 weeks in my life! ZOMBIE! Was driving home from the grocery store and did not know how to get out of the parking lot! Said thats it! Went cold turkey, why call the doctor when he does not respond. Had left arm discomfort and chest tightness, saw the cardio and nothing was wrong.The skaking on this pill was unbelievabe even my physical therapist and staff noticed it!First, second and third day the shaking was unbelievable! I do have IBS guess he wanted to just have me on another pill. Upper right stomach pain. Gallbladder or pancreas that wakes you up at night, WELL feel better after I eat so it is not that. This happy pill needs a black box warning! I am on day 4 of going off it, just tired and the upper stomach discomfort. I was not and am not depressed, sure we all have some depression, look at our world today! But unless you are hiding under a chair and won’t come out, stay off these pills and find something else.
  • Edward Cartwright
    The only reason i started in the first place was night terrors and panic attacks 15 years ago i hate doctors and hate going to the doctors just to get a refill i feel like docs are used car salsmen in white coats. Im gonna start weening from 50ml to 25ml ill keep posting the experiance
  • Anonymous
    I am a 26 year old female, 5’4″, 135 lbs. I started taking Zoloft 50mg in 2015, 1 year later my doctor and I increased my dose to 100mg. Now This June 2019 I decreased back to 50mg for 1 month and now have not taken any Zoloft since the beginning of July.I began taking Zoloft because I was going through a very emotionally hard time with major depression and anxiety. I was on Xanax & Wellbutrin to help with my disorders before my doctor suggested Zoloft instead. My main reasons for wanting to quit are that my libido has been non-existent ever since 2015 and I also plan becoming pregnant in the next year. I also became dependent on Suboxone and am currently decreasing my doses with that; therefore, my side effects may differ slightly from others just withdrawing from Zoloft. Currently my side effects have been vertigo (especially when I first wake up in the morning), severe depression, crying spells, nausea/diarrhea, hot flashes, mood swings, irritability and dry mouth. In order to ease the withdrawals, I am constantly drinking water and I use edibles at night which help the side effects tremendously. *Disclaimer: I am a California resident*Whoever reads this: I believe in you and you can get off this medication! I am a firm believer in mental illness medication, and I will probably start taking this again once I have my child(ren). Depression and/or anxiety are NOT weaknesses nor are they illnesses to be ashamed of. Don’t be afraid to talk to those close to you about how you’re feeling emotionally and physically.
    • Jane Doe
      I appreciate your comment so much. thank you.
  • al
    I am on 50 milligrams, i also take seroquel and depakote so I went off it.So far their is no crash feeling like effexor. I don’t think I needed it.I do think zoloft is a light pill, good for motivation and drive but it made me homicidal, so I had to stop it.