Q. I quit Zoloft after nine years and suffered horrendous withdrawal symptoms: nausea, brain zaps, vertigo, headaches, digestive problems and numbness and tingling in my hands, feet and face.
I’m writing to let others know that withdrawal does get better, even on days when you think you cannot possibly survive one more hour of feeling so sick. If I had known at the start what it would take to wean off this antidepressant, I would never have taken it.
The symptoms were horrible for a full two weeks. The third week, I felt a bit better each day, and after that I improved quickly. I still have an occasional brain zap or wave of vertigo, but for the most part I’m back to normal. My sex drive, energy levels and mood have all improved tremendously.
A. Many antidepressants such as duloxetine (Cymbalta), escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft) and venlafaxine (Effexor) can trigger unpleasant symptoms if discontinued abruptly. Patients should be warned about this complication. Neither the manufacturers nor the FDA offers doctors much guidance on how to help their patients phase off such drugs gradually.
We are sending you our Guide to Dealing with Depression for more information on the pros and cons of antidepressants, details on discontinuing and non-drug approaches to managing this disorder.
Thanks for sharing your experience. We hope others won’t have to suffer as much as you have. Those who prefer natural approaches to depression may wish to listen to our helpful interview on Mental Health Naturally with Dr. Tieraona Low Dog of the University of Arizona Integrative Medicine Center.