Woman in distress

Antidepressants can be lifesavers, but ultimately many people find that they would like to stop taking the medication. This can be more difficult than it seems.

Is Zoloft Addictive?

Q. I was told that Zoloft (sertraline) was not addicting but my experience suggests otherwise. I was on this antidepressant for nine years. I wanted to get off because it killed my sex drive.

One day after stopping this drug I experienced unbearable dizziness. I could not walk across a room without holding on to a piece of furniture for stability. I called my daughter but was incoherent.

She discovered that my blood pressure was 190/105 and my heart rate was 165. She rushed me to the ER where they thought I was having a heart attack. The tests came back negative.

I suffered headache, dizziness and nausea for days. My daughter suggested I go back on the Zoloft. Shortly after taking it my symptoms disappeared. I am angry that I was never told this drug is addictive. Getting off this drug can be a nightmare.

Withdrawal from Antidepressants:

A. You are not the first person to report disastrous side effects when stopping drugs such as citalopram (Celexa), desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft) and venlafaxine (Effexor). Sudden discontinuation may trigger symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, headache, brain zaps, irritability, insomnia, sweating and pain, numbness or tingling in hands or feet.

You will find other stories about withdrawal from antidepressants if you are interested in CymbaltaEffexor or sertraline. The withdrawal syndrome has not been studied well, but research indicates that it is not unusual (Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, March, 2015).

To help you better understand withdrawal from antidepressants as well as non-drug approaches to managing mood, we are sending you our Guide to Dealing with Depression.

Revised 3/10/2016

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  1. Claudia

    I have been weaning off Zoloft and all I can say is that it has been hell, probably the worst experience with medication that I’ve ever had. I cut the pill in half for over a week and thought it would be good to go every other day. Then the symptoms started. Zaps, sweats, dizziness, crawling skin, exhaustion and more. I stayed on half then down to 1/4 and then to 1/8 and even after stopping after 1/8 I am still feeling some effects. It’s been two days now without the 1/8 and I’m still uncomfortable with sweats and exhaustion, very minor zaps. This has been awful. Don’t take this medicine!!

  2. Ryaa
    Miami Florida

    I was on Prozac for a little over a year for anxiety and depression but the drug was making me sleepy during the day and keeping me up at night. My doctor switched me to Zoloft around 4 months ago and I’ve been taking it faithfully ever since, up until about a week ago. I stoped taking the Zoloft on my own because I felt like it made me gain weight. Every since I got off it, I’ve been unbelievably dizzy, nauseous at times, and haven’t been very hungry at all.

  3. Patrick

    I have been cutting my doses in half for over a month now, and this week I finally stopped taking it all together. Needless to say, I am an emotional wreck. It doesnt help at all that my cat got very sick and is now in the pet hospital. I cannot stop crying, which is somewhat nice since I havent cried in years.

    What I am worried about is I cannot sit still. I have anxiety and sort of pace when left alone. My thoughts are all over and often darker than I would want them to be. I am sort of obsessed over my cat having to be put down, even though the docs said it was not likely. I dont like being at home since he is gone, and I find myself driving around a lot when I am not working.

    Its hard to say if this is going off meds, the situation with my cat, or a combo. I was only on 50mg for the last 3 years and I didnt like the rapid heart rate in the am after taking it followed by the need to sleep a little longer (and getting sweaty while sleeping). I hope things go back to normal and I am not losing my mind.

    Side note, I planned on doing this now because it was a stress free time, but then the universe sort of flipped the script on me. The worst part is all the negative and sad thoughts that keep flooding my mind, especially in regards to life and death of loved ones.

    • Claudia

      I hope you are feeling better by now. I had to go from 1/2 to 1/4 and finally 1/8th. Two days off now and still feel effects. I’m hoping in a couple days it will be completely gone. What a hellish experience!

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