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Getting Off Zoloft Is Challenging

Getting Off Zoloft Is Challenging
Confusion unhappy thinking woman with headache on dark background. Closeup portrait

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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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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