Q. I am 28 years old and I have taken sertraline for five years to treat panic attacks. My doctor recently suggested I could stop taking sertraline because I’m doing so much better.
I tapered the dose down gradually for a month. Five days before stopping sertraline completely, I have noticed strange electric shock sensations in my lips and behind my ears. I feel my heartbeat in my head. Is this normal for someone going off sertraline? Should I continue with the plan, or do I need to take sertraline again?
A. Others have described electric shock sensations, also called “brain zaps,” upon stopping sertraline (Zoloft) and similar antidepressants. Additional symptoms of withdrawal include dizziness, headaches, anxiety, nausea, tremor and lack of energy.
Please let your doctor know how you are feeling. You may need to taper your dose even more gradually.
If you need more information about the pros and cons of antidepressants and the difficulties that may accompany withdrawal, we suggest our Guide to Dealing with Depression.