Coming Off Sertraline

Since February (2012), I’ve been under the happy, contented haze of Sertraline. It seems to have worked a treat for me and I have been busy reclaiming parts of my life which had previously been extinguished by depression. I have kept away from this blog, as I haven’t wanted to dwell on my depression and also haven’t felt like I’ve needed this particular crutch. Now I’m sat here writing this, I actually feel a bit guilty about that – like I’ve been neglecting an old friend.

At first the Sertraline was great – seemingly no side effects especially compared to my time on Fluoxetine. However over the last two months my sleeping has been degenerating badly (to the level the Fluoxetine had effected it), my stomach has been a disaster area (nausea, sickness, diarrhea, stomach cramps) and I have been feeling generally pretty shitty, so despite the depression being very much at bay, I booked an appointment with my GP to discuss options.

I reported to him that my depression felt very much under control and that I had a renewed interest in recording music (which had always been my first love), as well as interest in, and enjoyment of holidays, sex, friends and the world in general. Then I explained about the sleep deprivation, stomach problems and lethargy which seemed to be getting steadily worse, and after I convinced him that I wasn’t after a prescription for sleeping pills (they don’t agree with me), he relaxed and we had a proper discussion resulting in me agreeing to try coming off the Sertraline… if my mood started to slide I could always go back on them right?

So, over the last month I have slowly taken myself off them – 2 days on, 1 day off for a week, then 1 day on, 1 day off for a week, then 1 day on, 2 days off for just over a week. I had my last pill last Thursday 16th August.

I have definitely been feeling more anxious, grumpy, irritable and moody, but am aware that this is to be expected when coming off an SSRI… however it’s a dangerous thing when these are elements of my personality which I loathe. I have to be so careful it doesn’t just send me tumbling down that dark staircase which has taken me so bloody long to climb to the top of. It’s all very well these withdrawal side-effects being common, but nobody ever mentions how long they will last for. A week? Fine. 2 weeks? ok. 3 weeks? Really? 4 weeks or more? …Houston we have a problem.

On top of the state of unrest and agitation I am currently experiencing, (such unassuming words when read on a page – the reality of them is far more unpleasant that I ever expected), I am also experiencing rather disturbing weird brain zaps / shocks – like sudden, brief waves of dizziness / disorientation. Strangely, it is almost a pleasant feeling, however it is ultimately rather alarming. It feels like if I had a ‘big one’ it might send me into some kind of a fit, or make me pass out. Some of them are strong enough to make me grab hold of whatever is nearest to me in order to steady myself.

This seems to be getting worse not better…

I’m trying to book a telephone appointment with my doctor, but who knows when I’ll manage to speak to him – it seems to get harder and harder to speak to or see my doctor these days. I just want to know whether I should ride it out, or start taking low quantities of Sertraline again to try and reduce the withdrawals. Guess I’ll just have to do a bit of research and make that decision myself.

On a more general note, I liked my mood while on Sertraline. I was rarely grumpy or irritable, I remained cool-headed, calm and focussed… and happy. The way I’m feeling right now I’m not sure if I’ve made the right decision to come off them… so I now find myself caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Coming off Fluoxetine was nowhere near as difficult or unpleasant as this….


About RescueMyLife

I am a single man, 45 years old living in London and working in the media. My life is complex and I have decided to try and make some sense of it. I am writing this blog anonymously as I believe that only by remaining anonymous can I be honest and speak freely about my thoughts and feelings. I have no idea where this blog will take me...
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123 Responses to Coming Off Sertraline

  1. AllUCanBe says:

    I too have been away from my blog for ages, but I find you need to be in the right mindset to do a post and I’ve created a Facebook fanpage “Suicide Shatters” which I devote most of my time to lately.

    It’s a shame you had a delayed reaction to Sertraline as you were having such a good result initially. I’m surprised that on reducing your medication that you would stop and start it, I have always heard you need to stay on it but slowly over many weeks reduce the strength of dosage, tapering off, not to do what you were doing because it greatly affects the brain by removing it suddenly for a day or so. Here’s an excellent post about it from, a section “Antidepressant Withdrawal”

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) Therapy, but it is for major depressive disorder for people who have not responded well to antidepressants. I don’t know if it’s available in the UK or an option for you, but will give you a link to a 13 minute webinar by a U.S. company named NeuroStar TMS Therapy that explains it well. Hopefully you’ll be able to access it from the UK.

    Good to hear from you and hope you’re able to find something that works to alleviate the depression without such bad side effects.

    • RescueMyLife says:

      Wow – thank you. I can’t tell you how helpful your comment is.I am experiencing very unpleasant withdrawal side effects right now, despite reducing my Sertraline intake gradually over 3 weeks. I don’t even know if I should just pop a Sertraline now to try and reduce the side effects – for all I know that could be the worst thing I could do, so I’ve chosen not to… but I live by myself and despite his pretense of cold indifference, I know my cat doesn’t really understand and ultimately therefore, isn’t a very good listener.
      Right now I’m brain-zapping away, anxious, weepy, insecure, a bit scared, knackered & my thoughts are all over the place. A couple of drinks have calmed things down a bit, but at the moment nothing compares to a good old fashioned dose of sympathy & understanding, and solid, well informed advice. Thank you AllUCanBe, for both those things.

  2. Margaret says:

    Sorry to hear of your difficulty in coming off Sertraline. When I’ve discussed tapering off Sertraline with my clients and their treating physician it doesn’t involve skipping doses but rather cutting down on each daily dose. In general the taper schedule is no more than a 25% reduction in daily dose. Once down to 25 mg pills the pills can be cut into smaller doses. I recommend they stay at each dose for a couple of days at a minimum and as long as the symptoms of withdrawal are manageable they can proceed to the next lower dose.

    • RescueMyLife says:

      Hi Margaret.
      Thanks for your comment – it would appear I was instructed incorrectly by my doctor, as a few people have now told me I should have reduced the dose gradually rather than do it the way I have. I feel much better today however – less frequent and less intense brain zaps and I don’t feel as anxious or weepy as I did yesterday. My doctor certainly didn’t mean to inflict cold-turkey on me, and he has been really supportive and understanding about my depression, however perhaps I need to be mindful in future that he is indeed a GP not a Psychiatrist. Reading the first link that AllUCanBe gave me yesterday, has made me re-think a lot of things about my depression, and should it come back again, I think I will insist that I see a mental health professional rather than rely on my GP’s advice.
      I still haven’t worked out how long I can expect to experience these withdrawal symptoms… if I only need to tough out another week or so then I’ll be fine… but if it is likely to continue beyond that, then I’m not sure I’ll be able to cope…

      • Rebecca Lenten says:

        I’ve been on sertraline for years, before that prozac. I tapered off of prozac the same way you described eventually every other day and then nothing. It wasn’t horrible. Sertraline on the other hand. My doctor said she was not going to authorize any more refills until I saw her. (I had an anxiety attack and couldn’t stay for my appointment one day). Needless to say that ticked me off and if she thinks she can strong arm me to come in or not get my meds re-filled she is sadly mistaken. So I tapered off the same way as the prozac. I’m much more emotional, weepy, angry at a snap of my fingers. I could cry and then turn around and backhand someone and not think twice about it. I’m maintaining though I think. I just want to know how long will it take for me to be me? I work in the medical field and I can’t be crying and then angry/upset.

    • susie says:

      This is what I have done and achieved it without problems, now on a slither of my 100mg Sertraline approx 12 mg for a couple of days and will reduce to virtually nothing and then stop this will have taken me eight weeks to achieve, a side effect I have found has been slight dizzy spells , which have not lasted too long although today I do feel a little as if im floating over my self , slightly weird but manageable , but other than that no issues, I have been on Sertraline for eight months , changing from Fluxotine after fiften years so this is a biggy for me and feel proud that I can do without then.

  3. lisa says:

    Hi, so interesting to read fellow ‘fighters’ comments and opinions. My name is Lisa and I have been on Sertraline for a number of years. Randomly, a few days ago, from nowhere and despite knowing that I shouldn’t,I decided to go ‘cold turkey’ and stop taking sertraline altogether. Now usually, if I don’t take my regular dose (150mg) in the the morning, my head will let me know by midday via, as described above as little shocks, but strangely I haven’t had this as of yet however, and I feel slightly silly sharing this as you all have has such bad experiences, but I have had constant allergy like symptoms, itching driving me mad, scalp, neck, eyes, ears, everywhere…so uncomfortable. I was wondering if anyone else has experienced this….? I hope everyone is getting on ok as I know how absolutely paralysing any depressive illness can be. Much love xxx

    • RescueMyLife says:

      Hi Lisa, the itching sounds very unpleasant, I hope that has now stopped for you. If not try taking over the counter non-drowsy antihistamine called Loratadine. I have various minor allergies that occasionally flare up & Loratadine works a treat.
      On the other side of things I also hope that you are successfully battling your own personal struggle with depression. Thanks for your comment.

    • Lynette says:

      I started taking sertraline about eight years ago and have been wanting to take control of my life again. Taking medications was always scary for me but it was either take them or go crazy. So of course, I opted to take the pills. I’m glad I saw your blog., because I was wondering if anyone else has had those itching symptoms. Really, I’m itching like mad and can’t sleep at night. I have done everything, from taking Benadryl to rubbing baby powder all over my legs. It’s so weird, because it’s only my legs, head and arms. Also, it’s only at night. I don’t know what to do, it’s driving me nuts!

    • Dawnie says:

      I have read all posts with great interest and feel like I have found a lifeline. I feel like I am not only going mentally
      Mad but the itching was driving me crazy too…. Hadn’t linked to the withdrawal 😌. Thank you

    • Nikki says:

      I have not taken my sertraline for between 10 and 14 days, not for any other reason than I forgot, then ran out, and haven’t been to pick my new lot up. I want to go back on them, so just wondered is it ok to just start taking them again? I have been itching all over and getting electric shocks down my arms and head, didn’t think any thing of it until Lisa mentioned it above. Could this been side effects of not having my beds, hole someone can help

    • Laura says:

      Oh my…. YES… I feel like I have an infestation of head lice and also on my legs too. I have came off Setraline and I am so dizzy, I feel hung over and very very tired. I am also very irritable and panicky at the moment so I think I need to re-think my decision to come off Setraline.

    • NC says:

      Yes! Extreme itchiness. Worst is when it’s itching like hell down there. So uncomfortable and painful. I find calamine lotion calms the itch but you can’t always walk around covered in baby pink lotion ha ha ha

  4. Emma evans says:

    Well, I have finally come off sertraline after 15 years and feel amazing. I have been on 150 mg and have tried a few times over the years to come off it . I got the same symptoms as everyone else and went back on it! I started by cutting a quarter of my tablet away ,and doing that for a month. Then the next month take another quarter away . Every month you’re taking a little away until you get rid completely. It takes a long time but I didn’t get any side effects at all! I now feel great and my life has changed alot. Please try this everyone because it works!

    • RescueMyLife says:

      Hi Emma, thanks for sharing your experience with coming off Sertraline. You very sensibly came off it the correct way… unlike me! 15 years on antidepressants is a long time, I hope you’re continuing to feel amazing. I have to say that I do feel so much better now I’m off it and the sometimes rather alarming withdrawal symptons have ceased.
      All the best

    • Sybs says:

      Thanks so much for your post Emma. At last I have found someone who has been on SSRIs for as long as me (longer in fact). I was on Citalopram for about 10 years then Sertraline for about 3. I was only on 50mg of Sertraline but have discontinued a lot quicker than you but I guess you needed to because of the dose. But anyway, it is so good to read of a success story of someone who not only has been on it for as long as you have, but on a high dose. For years I told myself I could not come off it because of being on it for so long but you have given me real encouragement. I sincerely hope you are continuing to succeed in your discontinuation (although it is nothing to be ashamed of if you haven’t). All the best, Sybs xxx

    • LadyMeerkat says:

      Thank you so much for this post. I too have been on it for as long as you and made several attempts to come off it long term. My GP said cutting the pill wouldn’t be an effective way of doing it so I never did it that way. I don’t see him anymore. Another GP advised the skipping method. This is the first time I have heard that it should be reduced not skipped. It gives me hope that maybe I can do this. I thought there was something wrong with me rather than questioning the method. I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist but medication isn’t something that she can advise me on.

    • Leslie says:

      Hi Emma,

      My husband is dealing with depression and some withdrawal symptoms after getting off Zoloft which he took for 19 years. He’s mostly been on 25mg, though, there were times when the dose was 50 mg or higher. He started dealing with insomnia, though, six weeks after getting off Zoloft. Did you by chance experience any difficulty sleeping after getting off Zoloft? If so, how did you deal with it and how long did it take before you started sleeping better?


      • Sybs says:

        Hi all, I am going to appear to go off on a tangent slightly but here goes: I was on Zoloft for about 3 years on 50mg daily. I tried several times to come off it and it took a while. Eventually, I ignored the doctors whose suggestions for gradually coming off weren’t any where near gradual enough. It probably took me about 3 months in total to come off them (gradually chopping down the tablet then moving to alternate days, then every 3rd day, etc). I still have the weird dizzy lightheadedness for a while but I persisted and was eventually free of them. However, I started getting very stressed in work and in my personal life so I felt very wobbly again and this was the first time in a long time that I had no medication to help me through. I developed insomnia which was absolutely awful. I ended up not sleeping at all (and I mean NO sleep) for up to 7 days at a time so was unable to function, was like a zombie, could not work, could not plan anything at all. I went to the GP and she suggested Prozac (Fluoxetine). I was not keen on going back on anti-depressants as I felt a failure but was desperate. The first couple of weeks on them was pretty horrendous (one of the side-effects is insomnia!!!) plus a nasty headache for the first week, and sweating and trembling at night-time. But I persevered and the GP was wonderful – constantly monitoring my progress. After 4 weeks I finally felt like I had turned a corner and started to sleep and told my GP, “although I wouldn’t exactly say I’m happy, I don’t feel like life is totally pointless anymore” – believe me, that was progress. By week 5 I felt significantly better but then I started to forget to take the tablets. Unlike Sertraline, I felt no adverse affects like dizziness or brain zaps. I started to take 1 tablet every other day. Now I am on 1 tablet every 4 days and feel absolutely fine. I honestly feel like these are the best anti-depressants I’ve ever been on, with the least withdrawal effects. Just feeling like I could come off them if I wanted to, is a really positive feeling. I have decided to stick to 1 every 4 days, as although it might seem hardly worth it, I figure that if I start to feel bad again, I could increase them gradually without having to go through the awful initial stages of starting them over again. My point is that while you may wish to come off anti-depressants altogether, if you feel you can’t copy, try turning to Prozac instead as it is so much gentler and easier to live with. You may even find you can come off Sertraline and move on to Prozac just to help with the withdrawal effects of the Sertraline, and then come off Prozac or at least cut it down to a minimum like I have.

      • JPGR says:

        As seems to be common the initial side effects of sertraline can be quite disruptive. The first four weeks for me was very unpleasant; loss of libido, insomnia have been the worse but also accompanied by a lot of other effects. BUT, I found the original 50 mg dose actually helped quite a bit with my depression – (libido and insomnia are still there) so after speaking with my doctor we decided that I should try reducing to 25 mg. As all of you know each of us reacts differently to this drug so I’m willing to give 25 mg a go for a couple of weeks and see how I feel then. I guess it all depends what you’re willing to put up with in return for peace of mind and since my doctor can’t give me concrete answers to my concerns any more than I can find here or elsewhere then I’m willing to give the 25 mg a try. Of course I’m aware that this isn’t the doctor’s fault of not knowing a lot about the drug because it appears there are too many what-ifs when using it for different individuals. It’s a let’s-try medicine and see what happens. I think that’s something we can all agree on. I’m hoping to maintain a healthy and positive level with the 25 mg experiment and am anxious to see if I not only I sleep better but also regain my libido. That said, I would like to hear from others who have tried lessening the dosage and what success or failure they’ve experienced.

  5. Daisy Chain says:

    hey, Ive decided to see off sertraline having spent the last 11 months on them successfully I think. I no longer felt sad but lately have been worrying that I wasnt feeling anything at all. So ive been reducing my dose and so far ive had a few headaches and have been tearful. Im hoping that this is shortlived and soon I’ll reach a settled phase. Its not easy to discuss depression without a pang of shame as to me the word conjours an image of pitiful self indulgence and who wants to be labelled with that. Heres hoping, that its all vanquished. Good luck all.

    • RescueMyLife says:

      Hi Daisy Chain – I think Sertraline worked very well for me too. Take the advice of others here and reduce the quantity of your daily dose gradually… don’t do what I did (day on, day off etc.) as you will suffer the side effects. If you do suffer side effects don’t worry they do eventually go… although it does take an annoyingly long time for the side effects to disappear completely.
      I understand the pang of shame thing about depression, but times have changed and people are more open and more educated about mental health these days. There is no shame in depression – it is a deeply unpleasant, debilitating illness which effects a far larger percentage of the population than is ever openly discussed. I do feel that the ‘pitiful self-indulgence’ label is fast becoming viewed by most people as an ignorant, ill-informed opinion and is thankfully rarely spoken aloud any more. I wish you all the very best with your recovery & thanks for taking the time to comment.

      • Daisy Chain says:

        Dear RLM, Thank you for replying. Ive been completely refrained from sertraline for well over a week now and things are okay. I sort of feel that Im reclaiming myself once again if that makes any sense. Before starting sert, my depression, which Ive encountered for more years than I remember (Im 34) hit a new low. I think I scored 24 out of 27 on the test that the gp undertakes with you. Sertraline is the only medication that I’ve taken for it and it changed my life. Like you, however, I hit a bit of a wall as side effects were getting in the way. The decision to go solo has been as good as the decision I made to get help. Hope this is also true for you and others on here……

  6. Mrs Smith says:

    For everyone finding it difficult to come off prescription anti depressants I recommend you ring as they have experience from others about how to best get off. It has to be very slow. I am currently taking 12.5mg five days a week, then will reduce to four for two weeks, three for two weeks etc. until I am off. Tried to go cold turkey too and got the brain zaps, major irritability (to the point of homicidal feelings) and involuntary and uncontrollable crying even though my rational brain was saying everything was fine.

    Their helpline is 0151 932 0102 (Monday to Friday 10am-1pm, Weekends and Bank Holidays). Leave a message and someone will get back to you.

    • RescueMyLife says:

      Thanks for the useful link Mrs Smith – I only wish I had done a little research about it before I started weaning myself off Sertraline. Regarding your own weaning off program, I am a little concerned that it sounds similar to how I was told by my doctor to come off Sertraline and it didn’t work. It seems from what people have since said to me, that the best way is to keep taking it every day but slowly reduce the amount – you are doing what I did which was to knock whole days out & that really didn’t work for me at all. Having said that you are doing it over a slightly longer period than me, so maybe you’ll be ok…
      but if you do start suffering withdrawals, then I would strongly suggest you reassess the way in which you’ve been told to wean yourself off.
      On a more positive note, despite suffering pretty horrid withdrawals for an annoyingly long time, the nasty side effects did eventually disappear completely, so no matter what happens, take comfort from the fact that the withdrawal symptoms are temporary.
      Good luck with your recovery & thanks for sharing your thoughts

      • Mrs Smith says:

        It’s been really helpful reading everyone’s comments. I am at the stage of skipping three days now for two weeks, so if I feel bad side effects I will take a tiny amount on those days instead. I remember when I went on them I was completely useless for at least a month with feeling that I couldn’t breath, night sweats, delusions, brain zaps etc etc Horrible to think I have to go through some of that again to be free of the meds. Will keep an eye on this website.

      • Cc says:

        Hi, how long did the withdrawal effects last. I came off 50mg serdep cold turkey under psych instruction and was put on valdoxane 25mg. This last week has been horrible, I’m so full of anger. I cry happy tears, sad tears, no reason tears etc etc! I’ve also been experiencing the zapping through the eyes and disoriented feeling (which I’ve only know managed to connect the dots because of your blog) My temper and irritability is effecting my relationship with my partner. Please give me an indication, how lovely no does it take? Is it worth it? I’m at the point where I think it’s better to feel nothing than have this all consuming emotional assault.

      • Jo says:

        Hi there
        Thank you all for your stories, its been a great help! I was on 50mg Serdep for about 6 months. The last 3 or 2 months I halved it and only had 25mg per day. About 10 days ago I decided I don’t need it anymore. I didn’t really do anything for me to be honest. And financially I couldn’t afford it anymore. So I came off it cold turkey. I cannot remember when I had a full nights sleep! The brain zaps is uncontrollable! Feels like I am in a daze to whole time. I was unemployed for a year and only started my new job about a month ago, so its not great feeling this way and still trying to do your job. How long will I still feel this way? I feel anxious and last week I had heart palpitations badly. I have allot of stuff going on so its hasn’t been a good time. I just want to know if its going to take long still before I feel a bit more normal?

      • Hard man says:

        Iff you would read the comments you would see , go on fluroxitine this will stop the side effects and because of fluroxitines huge half life there pretty easy to get off I know I’ve got off sertriline and now venlaphaxine using this technique itle cost you seven quid , you should get off using one box or less , enjoy your life

  7. Humber Girl says:

    I came off Sertraline almost a week ago sort of accidentally then on purpose. I forgot to take one when moving onto my final packet and then decided to not take any more. I want to know I have control of my thoughts and feelings myself and not depend on medication. I found meditation and mindful breathing whilst off sick and have found it to be very effective. I’m only now starting to experience a fuzzy head. Like when I move my head my brain moves after as if there’s a delay. I’m determined to plough on through cold turkey though. I know I can do it. I am in such a good place in my life that I fel strong enough to deal with it. I only worry about any lasting effects I’m unaware of which could be caused by my going cold turkey…

    • RescueMyLife says:

      Hi Humber Girl,
      The fuzzy head thing sounds very similar to the brain zaps – I hope they didn’t become too bad and I’m sure by now they will have ceased. I also hope you have continued to stay in a good place and are remaining strong off the meds. Things are continuing to go very well for me and the brain zaps and unpleasant anxiety are thankfully a dim distant memory.
      Would love to hear how you got on – you went suddenly cold turkey so it would be really interesting to know.

  8. Sybs says:

    Hi, I have been on Sertraline 50mg for 2-3 years after changing from Citalopram which I was on for about 11 years but seemed to stop working, hence the change over. I was prescribed both medications for Panic and Obsessive thinking. The last two years I have felt absolutely fine and well-balanced. I decided after Christmas to try coming off them as I thought I must be fully better. I cut my tablet in half so was taking 25mg for 2 weeks with no problems except the zapping and lightheadedness now and again. But by the 3rd week I started to feel a bit unsure of myself and a bit nervous. Yesterday I had that familiar feeling of a panic attack coming on. This was accompanied by a feeling of sadness and disappointment that it would seem that I had not recovered but had been kept well by the medication, so I am now wondering if I can ever come off it. Can anyone tell me if these side effects / withdrawal fade away after a while and if so, how long? Also, does anyone know if there is any documented evidence to suggest there are any harmful effects of staying on it longterm? Many thanks.

    • RescueMyLife says:

      Hi Sybs,
      Sorry to hear you’re struggling. If it makes you feel any better, I definitely wobbled coming off the Sertraline, but for me it did pass. I suffered very unpleasant anxiety, the well-documented brain zaps and feelings of sadness and fairly random tearfulness for what felt at the time like a lifetime. It made me doubt that I was ready to come off the medication, but I was determined to tough it out. My body eventually adjusted to being off the Sertraline and found it’s own balance again and I haven’t looked back.

      Having said that, when I tried to come off Fluoxetine the year before, I was fine for a while and then felt myself sliding into depression again. I decided that I needed to go back on medication but not Fluoxetine again because of the side-effects. That’s how I ended up on Sertraline. Only you really know if it’s the right time or not, and the fact that you are even trying is an amazing positive… but unfortunately you do have to expect a bit of a bumpy ride for a while when you do eventually come off… you can do it. It really is possible.
      I really do wish you the best of luck whatever you decide to do.

  9. Peter says:


    I came off sertraline by reducing the dose gradually about 3 months ago. I too had the brain zaps and tearfulness although they now have gone. I am however horrendously depressed. I started the meds because of obsessive behaviour and anxiety, not so much for depression. Now i feel so depressed and down. I’m wondering whether to go back on them ???

    • RescueMyLife says:

      Hi Peter,
      Really sorry to hear that. I’d be interested to know how long you were on the Sertraline before coming off it? Hope you’re feeling better now but if you’re not then you should definitely speak to your doc about possibly going back on them
      Thanks for leaving a comment here & I hope things look brighter for you soon

      • Sybs says:

        Hi Peter, I too went on Sertraline originally for obsessive thinking and panic rather than depression but also have been starting to feel very down since “meddling” with my dosage. I always find it hard to pinpoint which comes first – the anxiety or depression – they do usually go hand in hand and some practitioners believe that anxiety is part of depression. I totally empathise with you and know how devastating it is to feel the way you do. Please do go back to the docs. There are loads of different SSRIs out there and you may find that a change will help. All the best, Sybs.

  10. Ruth says:

    Wow, this is such a hard road. To stay off, or turn to something else? I was on sertraline for 10 years and have been 3 weeks off completely, having tapered as you’re supposed to. I was feeling reasonable until last Thursday, when I suddenly felt I was having a nervous breakdown. Admitted myself to the Doctor who said he thinks I just need a holiday, away from husband, 14yr old and work. My BIGGEST problem is sleep, I think if I could just get a few nights of 6hours straight in that things would pick up. But even with sleeping pills prescribed Thurs, i can only manage 4hrs which doesn’t help me one little bit. Since Thurs, I have told my husband of 27 years that I want out. Am 50yrs old and talking to a male friend online has helped me heaps but has also confused me heaps, we have become so close ‘online’ and I am feeling very sexually attracted toward him even though I don’t actually see him :\ (My marriage of 27 years has been almost no sex). Does anyone know if the sleep thing will start improving after 3 weeks? I’ve had to take time off work to try and get through this.
    Love & respect you all out there, it’s such a tough road. To take the meds or not take the meds, that is the question.

  11. Annie says:

    So Interesting reading this blog. I’ve been on a tiny dose of sertraline 25mg and for about a year. I halved to 15mg for about 3 months then started taking the half tablet every second day and gradually dropped it down to every three days. I have now stopped taking it altogether and am getting fuzzy head spins, almost pleasant but annoyingly distracting.

    I haven’t had nearly half the issues some of the folk here have had when they needed to start this medication. But the withdrawal symptoms of the dizzy spells are a common thread. I think they’re getting a bit less this week and I’m hopeful that they’ll cease soon. I sometimes feel like taking a half tablet just to get rid of the dizziness. However I’ve come this far, think I’ll keep going and see what I’m like without the “haze of Sertraline” Best wishes to you “Drowning Man” – you must be learning to swim!!

  12. kev says:

    I have had those brain zaps coming off zoloft cold turkey long long ago.
    I have been on Zoloft now since October and gained 10 lbs and seriously considering weening off. I’m only on 100 mgs

    75mg x 3days
    50mg x 4days
    25mg x 5days
    12 mg x 6 days

    You probably wouldn’t believe me if I was to tell you they design these medicines to make the withdrawal effects worse than what you came in for originally. You are human capital basically….($$$$$$). Its the root problem of medicine today because its profit driven.
    I now understand why Tom Cruise said what he said to Matt Lauer.

    More than likely it isn’t the anti-depressants that cause all these violent tragedies you see in the news…its the withdrawal effects or mixing them with street drugs and alcohol.

    I will check in and let you know how things go.

  13. Sybs says:

    Hi all, I tried coming off Sertraline just after Christmas by cutting the dose by half. But after a couple of weeks I started to feel a bit panicky and old negative thoughts started creeping back in so I decided to go back on it. The reason I wanted to come of it, by the way, was that I was feeling really well, but also I had started noticing a bit of tinnitus (hissing) when in a quiet room, but not so loud as to be all that bothersome. However, I read the Sertraline leaflet and it cited tinnitus as being a potential side effect. Anyway, in spite of going back on Sertraline I didn’t notice any particular impact on my tinnitus, in fact I had more or less forgotten all about it, but then just after the Easter weekend (being back on 50 mg for about 2 months) it suddenly started to get worse, so that I noticed it more and more during the day while at work even while there were other background noises. Over the last nearly 3 weeks it has been pretty intense, some nights causing me to have no sleep and suffer panic attacks. I went to the docs after the first week and she checked in my ears and said that one of them looked a bit red so gave me 7 days antibiotics. My tinnitus started to abate after about 3 days of taking the antibiotics, but then it came back really bad. I started to notice a pattern emerging – 2 or 3 days of bearable or virtually non-existent tinnitus followed by 1 day of intense high pitched ringing and hissing. This has played havoc with my emotional state as you can imagine – I have been on a high one day when I thought the tinnitus was gone only to go incredibly low when it came back again, exacerbated by lack of sleep. I have also cut down on caffeine considerably over the last 3 days (to about 1 caffeine drink a day). I have not given up red wine, although I’ve cut down to about 3 small glasses max in any one evening, but I have not particularly noticed an effect on the tinnitus, in fact it helps relax me which has a positive effect. My main question is this: could it be possible that the tinnitus side effect could come on after 3 years of taking Sertraline, or do all side effects only happen at the start of taking it? Any advice would be much appreciated, thanks.

    • L says:

      Hi Sybs, I don’t know whether this will be of any use to you as my experience of tinnitus is kind of the opposite to yours. I also hope you see this, as it’s been a few weeks since you posted your message. I’ve had tinnitus for nearly 3 years now and I personally think stress/anxiety/depression is the cause, as before its onset I’d started to feel down far more often. Doctors have never given me any explanation and only gave me a hearing test with the result “your hearing is perfect so there’s nothing we can do”. I started taking Sertraline almost exactly a year ago due to depression (which had been brewing for years, and most likely made a little worse by the tinnitus!) and am due to start reducing my dosage next time I visit my GP. I don’t think my tinnitus has changed since being on Sertraline. I have several different sounds, all varying pitches/volumes of a ‘hiss’ like you describe — it isn’t the ‘ringing in the ears’ that is commonly described (and that I have experienced after nights at clubs before tinnitus made me stop going), but feels more like it is in my head, and is definitely more of a hiss, or buzz, almost like tv static or quiet white noise.

      I remember when I first started on Sertraline, I saw that tinnitus was a side effect and was concerned that it might make my existing tinnitus worse (my slightly more optimistic side thought ‘hey, maybe if I already have it, this will have the reverse effect of making my tinnitus go away!’ but alas, it didn’t) but the depression was too bad and I’d kind of started getting used to the tinnitus anyway. I don’t actually think mine’s going to be going away anytime soon. If it was caused in part by the depression, which has now eased, I think, I hoped that the tinnitus would fade with it. Maybe one day it will leave just as abruptly as it arrived. I’m really sorry that you’re experiencing it, as I know how hard it is to live with and can really drive you crazy at times. I don’t notice mine as often anymore because I’ve gotten used to it, but when it’s quiet or when I’m particularly stressed, it becomes noisier (or more apparent).

      I do hope yours is only temporary. I’m sorry that I can’t explain whether or not it’s a (very) delayed side-effect of the Sertraline — one of the common causes is loud noise, so can you remember whether you’ve been to a loud gig, nightclub, or had prolonged exposure to noise? Alternatively, maybe although it’s not your first time on Sertraline, your body is almost treating is as such, hence the side-effect of tinnitus which you didn’t suffer before? I only suggest this because of reading other peoples’ experiences with going back onto the same medication and finding that it didn’t work, or had different results to before. My partner was on fluoxetine which worked well, then came off it, then when he had another episode of depression and went back on it, he didn’t think it had any effect on him like it had before.

      I’ll stop rambling and guessing at things now. All I can suggest with the tinnitus is trying to cope with it until you come back off the Sertraline again, and see what happens. Or if the tinnitus is causing you more distress than the depression/anxiety, come off the Sertraline. Whichever is the lesser of two evils, I suppose 😦

      In the meantime, here’s a link to Action On Hearing Loss, some of the info and forums on there helped me learn more about tinnitus and how other people deal with it. There’s also a shop with things that might help, such as noise generators:

      I also had a lecturer at uni who has suffered from tinnitus since the early 90s and he lent me a book about Tinnitus Retraining Therapy — basically, training your brain to ignore it. Unfortunately I only managed to skim read parts of it, as it is a HUGE book and I was in my final term with a deadline looming! It is also rather expensive. This website has some of the key ideas though:

      Sorry I’ve written so much, but I hope maybe I’ve been a little help, even if it’s just by saying ‘hey, I have tinnitus too’ so you know you’re not alone. I’m now about to take up more space with my own comment on the article about coming off Sertraline, so sorry in advance for that too! Do let me know if I can help any further, I’ll be sure to keep checking back on this page. L xx

      • Sybs says:

        Hey L, thank you so much for your lengthy and insightful reply. A few things have changed since I last posted my message. Firstly, I have had several blood tests to find out if it is related to anaemia or thyroid. The tests came back normal. In the meantime I was advised by my GP to try coming off Sertraline again in case it did have something to do with it. She advised to take my 50mg tablet every other day for the first week, then 25mg every other day for the second week, then stop by the third week. I am on the third week and have 1 x 25mg (half a tablet to take tomorrow) then that’s it. I have been having the brain zaps and a little light-headedness now and again which I think is due to the discontinuation. Incidentally my GP said she would be very surprised if the lightheadedness was caused by the discontinuation as she considers my withdrawal to be very gradual. I actually disagree with her and think that she has asked me to withdraw quite rapidly as I have read from other contributors that they recommend coming off far more gradually than I have, but I think that most of the time the GPs have no clue (unless they have actually been on the medication themselves). I am feeling fine in myself and have actually adjusted to the tinnitus as you said – it does not get me down like it did. It annoys me a bit when it spikes but it is definitely not taking over my life like it did to start with, and I am managing to ignore it mostly. Thanks again for taking the time to reply in such an informative way. All the best, Sybs xxx

      • RescueMyLife says:

        Hi Sybs,
        Sorry to jump in on your convo here, but you have been given very similar ‘weaning off sertraline’ instructions by your GP as I was by mine and as far as I’m concerned they are giving wrong/bad info!
        Firstly, in hindsight, the weaning period should be probably double the amount of time (6 weeks or more, rather than 3), and most importantly, you shouldn’t do the ‘day on, day off’ thing – you should continue to take it every day, but slowly reduce the quantity.
        Following your GP’s advice will result in brain zaps and lightheadedness as it did with me. If I could go back and do the weaning off process again, I would completely disregard my GP’s instructions. I think it must be some sort of ‘standard drug weaning’ timeframe that they follow and I’m sure it works perfectly for other drugs, but it is NOT suitable for sertraline. Good luck with the brain zaps… they do go away eventually.

  14. Emily says:

    Hello all,

    I really appreciate this article. I’m trying to come off Sertraline after taking it for about 10 months. I had major depression and in the last few months, I’ve started to feel in control and back to my old self. Also, I’m super keen to be med-free because Sertraline has really effected my sex life – did anyone else find this?

    I was on 200mg and then went down to 150mg on alternate days. After about a week I went down to 150mg everyday and then so on until I was on 50mg. Now, I’m taking 50mg every other day. However, by the afternoon on the Sertraline-free days, I feel like I need to crawl into a corner and hide. Plus, I’ve been getting those “brain zaps” you wrote of (although I didn’t know they had a name or that anyone else experienced this – my doctor didn’t prepare me at all) and I find them quite frightening. It’s like being really brain drunk for 3 seconds. I feel anxious and restless and I’m finding it very hard to concentrate – all the old symptoms I was so glad to put behind me. I wonder if I should take 25mg every day, rather than 50mg every other day? I don’t know. My partner is getting agitated because I’ve been very up and down – he says I’ve been impossible to read. I so want to be med-free and well but nothing is ever easy with this illness. It’s so frustrating.

  15. Amy says:

    Hi everyone,
    I’ve been on Sertraline for only a few months, starting with a 12.5 mg dose, worked up to 100 mg, then 150 mg and THEN nausea and diarrhea like you can’t believe. My doctor suggested going down to 100 mg until it stabilizes. I’m sure that makes sense but I’m at the point where I dare not go too far from a bathroom (difficult at work), so today I decided just to not take the drug at all and see if I could get my stomach stabilized for a day.

    I lived with anxiety for 5 years before making the decision to try drugs; so far the Sertraline hasn’t done much for my anxiety and, reading the other comments here, I have to wonder if being on this drug is worth it.

    Kev, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the withdrawal effects were indeed deliberate. Not to be paranoid, but it is all about the money for these folks.

  16. CkYorkshire says:

    Jeeze guys….Google is more dangerous than Sertaline. I am on day one. Looking for an improvement to my mood, irrational behaviour, intolerance and general paranoia. Hoping I can cope as not done any antidepressants since early 20’s, not sure if you should be on or off to be honest…. MY BEHAVIOUR COULDN’T BE ANY WORSE THOUGH 🙂 so I have to give it a shot.

    One thing my GP or pharmacist never mentioned was not to drink, is this for real? Maybe I will choose to still behave like a raving looney but least have a vino or two doing it, cannot go red wine cold turkey…….???? Could end up being worse than a Sertaline come down….

    • L says:

      Hi Ck,

      The advise is not to drink because it basically prevents the medication from doing its job so well. However, I know people who do drink whilst on it and say it doesn’t make any difference to them.

      I personally don’t drink whilst on Sertraline because usually it makes me feel more anxious and more harmful to myself. Unless I’m in particularly good company. However, this was the same when I WASN’T on the medication so…

      I guess your best bet is just to see what works for you. Remember that the effects of Sertraline may not kick in for a few weeks anyway, so things might be pretty up and down whether you’re drinking or not.

      Good luck and I hope it goes okay with you. L xx

      • CkYorkshire says:

        I actually feel like I have reached a plateau, I am optimistic, pleasant to strangers and not as socially awkward. Thank God had no problems with drinking on them. Reading some posts not sure will ever come off!!!! Trying not to worry as only in week 3 of the journey 🙂

  17. L says:

    Hi RML and others.

    I came across this blog article whilst researching coming off Sertraline, as I was due to start reducing my dosage when I last saw my GP two months ago but ‘chickened out’, as I had still been having a dark episode every month or so. My GP said the decision was completely up to me and we agreed that I would wait until my next visit, and begin the weaning-off process then. However, this visit is due in the next week or two, and I suddenly had a panic this evening about what might happen, and whether it is actually a good idea for me to start coming off it. My partner thinks I should, as I’ve been on it for a year now and the depression and anxiety seem to have pretty much eased. He also says that I can’t be on it for the rest of my life anyway, so I may as well give it a go and if the depression returns, go back on it. BUT — some people DO stay on medication for the rest of their lives, right?

    So then I began to research how exactly the drug works, which wasn’t really explained to me when I was first prescribed it. Does it cause the brain to start producing the chemicals itself, such that the medication is no longer needed to compensate for the lack of serotonin before? In which case, what is the likelihood of my brain NOT having made this adjustment and therefore when I come off the Sertraline my mood goes back to how it was before, because my brain isn’t able to balance the chemicals by itself? I tried to explain this to myself with the analogy of a broken leg — if the only way to test whether the bone is healed is to take the cast off and ‘give it a go’, there is a chance that the bone is not properly healed and when walked on, it may break again — and so the pain and discomfort of both the break and the wearing of the cast have to be gone through again. Or, the bone is healed and everything is fine and dandy. What if my brain isn’t properly ‘healed’ yet (still isn’t producing enough serotonin), or is incapable of fully ‘healing’ (never will produce enough serotonin, and needs medication to regulate it)? Perhaps I’m totally getting the wrong idea about how this medication works, though. I feel okay, but how do I know if I’ll continue to feel okay once I come off it?

    Basically, I do want to come off Sertraline because I don’t want to be dependent on it forever if it isn’t necessary (plus, it’s pretty expensive!!) BUT… I’m scared. I really really don’t want to go back to that dark place and although I’d like to think that I, my partner, or others around me, would notice the signs if my mental health started to decline again, it’s still a terrifying prospect. Sertraline has made the world of difference and I’m a changed person from the nervous wreck I was a year ago. The darkness has been lifted and I’m starting to feel like I have a life again. In a more tangible sense, taking that little pill each morning has helped me to graduate from university, get a job that I love, and do everyday things with less anxiety. The panic attacks have stopped, I rarely have urges to hurt myself, and I’m starting to have more confidence in myself. I still have a long way to go, but I don’t want to undo all of that.

    Is it worth the risk? Has anyone here been told that they’ll need to be on the medication long-term despite feeling okay? Does anyone know how Sertraline and the process of coming of it actually works?

    Any advice, information, words of encouragement etc would be gratefully received and sorry again for taking up so much space and so much of people’s time. L xx

    • Sybs says:

      Hi L. I am trying to understand why you feel you need to come off it now. A year really isn’t that long to be on it. I was on it for about 3-4 years, and before that, was on Citalopram for 10 years. Obviously I don’t know what dose you are on. I was on 50mg of Sertraline. I was feeling really good just before Christmas and had been for a long time (to the point where I totally believed I would never go back to the anxious panicky old me.) However, I reduced my dose to 25mg every day and after about 2 weeks I started to feel really panicky again. So reluctantly I decided to go back up to 50mg per day. After another couple of weeks I felt fine again. Now, I really don’t know if it was just my mind believing that I couldn’t cope without them, or if it genuinely was the Sertraline keeping me well.
      I am attempting to come off them again, but this time it is due to my tinnitus and the doc thinking it could be attributed to the Sertraline, so I had something else to focus on. As it turned out, it has made no difference to my tinnitus and I am being referred to an Audiologist. I am now into week 4 of the equivalent of 12.5mg every 2-3 days. I feel largely ok in myself but do not like the physical withdrawal, eg the sleepiness and lightheadedness and not feeling 100% with it, although my husband thinks I seem a lot sharper.
      It is obviously very much down to the individual and only you will know if you’re ready to come off them, but I really wouldn’t recommend you coming off them just because you feel you ought to. I would say that feeling well far outweighs being bothered about how long you’ll be on the meds for. When my doc once told me I may have to stay on them for the rest of my life I was fine with it and just thought how great it was to have a little pill that would make me feel well. My only advice would be not to rush into coming off them, as if you need to go back on, you may experience the original side effects all over again. I wish you all the best in whatever you decide to do. Sybs x

      • L says:

        Thanks for your response, Sybs. It was less a decision of my own to come of the Sertraline, and more my doctor saying ‘you’ve been on it for a year now and usually we start taking people off it once they’ve felt ‘okay’ for at least 6 months’. I’d told him I was feeling okay in general, with a couple of dark episodes every month or so. I get fleeting bad thoughts but don’t feel unsafe or anything. Basically, compared to the wreck I was a year ago, I feel great. I have been on 100mg Sertraline for a year (with a few weeks of Citalopram before that, but it made me feel completely out of it and, after a week, a danger to myself). It’s true that I’m feeling ‘okay’ now, but I do worry that it’s the Sertraline keeping me okay and that I’ll just drop back to how I was once I’m off it. I would be fine with taking it for many more years if it were necessary — it’s amazing what that one little pill can do, isn’t it? I do think there’s more than just a chemical imbalance though, and that there are underlying issues I need to address, but the talking therapies were never really offered to me. I guess I just go with what my doctor says, believing that he knows best, but maybe that’s just me being naive! I’ll keep you updated 🙂
        So glad to hear that you’re adjusting to the tinnitus, and that you’re seeing an audiologist — hope they get to the bottom of it 🙂
        L xx

  18. whynot23 says:

    Interesting. I was on Sertraline for about 3 months for anxiety and then started having really awful diarrhea. Not just painful but to the point that I couldn’t leave the house. I started tapering off it (I was up to 150 mg/day) and the diarrhea just wouldn’t quit. Finally I stopped taking the Sertraline entirely, thinking a life of anxiety was better than a life on the toilet. What has been interesting is that I have had no negative side effects from stopping and – best of all – my anxiety is still under control. Not gone entirely, but quite manageable. My doctor says this has to do with the brain rewiring itself and thought patterns having been changed. So, L, I would say the first thing to do is deal with your fears around this. If you have had panic attacks, you know what I mean when I say that having panic about having panic – or anxiety about experiencing anxiety – is one of those endless loops that’s hard to get out of once you’re in it. So rest easy in the knowledge
    that if you go off the drug, a) you can always get back on it and b) there’s a good chance that you will be just fine because your brain and patterns of thought have been altered by the drug. Does that make sense?

    • L says:

      Thanks for responding, whynot. Yes, that does make sense — I’m not sure about my thought patterns as although I am far less anxious and down in general, the root of some of my thoughts still remains. The medication helps somewhat, but I think to completely alter my thought patterns I’d need to see a therapist. You’re definitely right about the panic about panic, and I think it’s just going to have to be a case of trying it and seeing what happens. I feel safe doing so with people around me who will notice any changes that might suggest I need to go back on it.

      With regards to your side effects, did your doctor not suggest you try an alternative medication before stopping it completely? I hope your anxiety stays at bay. Thanks again for your advice. All the best, L xx

  19. Sybs says:

    Hi all, have any of you tried 5-HTP? For those of you who don’t know it is a natural remedy for anxiety and depression. You can get it from Holland and Barratt. It is pretty cheap at the moment as you buy 1 and get 1 for a penny. Anyway, I’ve read some pretty good reviews about it. I am thinking of getting some as I am nearly off Sertraline, and although I can handle the physical withdrawal symptoms I would like to have a backup in case I start to feel panicky/down. Let me know what you think.

  20. Sybs says:

    I am into my 4th week of coming off Sertraline and the brain zaps have stopped but I am getting light-headed quite alot. On Saturday night I had a really good night’s sleep but found it quite hard to come round on Sunday, and felt really spaced out. I have been feeling “not really with it” for the last few days, and a little bit “flat” (without any real emotion, is the only way I can think to describe it). Anyway, is this also a normal withdrawal symptom?

  21. cj919 says:

    I found this entry while looking up affects of weaning off of zoloft, which is what I am trying to do right now. What a nightmare. Unlike you though, I did horrible on the zoloft. I started at 25 mg, a couple weeks later 50 mg then 100 mg about 2 weeks after that. I noticed on the 50 mg I was getting bad head pressure which I just thought was allergies. Then my anxiety was through the roof (that’s when they upped it to 100 mg). A few days after bring on the 100 mg I started having a “drunk” or tipsy feeling as if I was going to fall down of tip over for no reason. I was also shaky, my heart felt like it was racing and I could not concentrate on anything. This went on for about 4 weeks and my dr said to “give it time”. Then I broke down and decided to cut down to 75 mg on my own. Felt horrible and super anxious, dizzy and shaky. Told my dr and she said to cut down to 50 mg that night. It has been about 3 days on 50 mg and I think i am going through slight withdrawal. I still have that drunk feeling, get shaky hands and legs, an exhausted and very irritable. I swear from this point on I will never do another SSRI. I never felt like this and just pray it stops. Best of luck to you, I hope you are recovering.

  22. ems says:

    Hi , I found this while looking up side effects of stopping sertraline , I was taking 100 mg of sertraline for three years and at my last appt with my doctor I said I felt well enough to start coming off of them , she agreed took out a piece of paper with the guidelines of how to stop on and said to reduce to 50 mg for a week and then stop , I was anxious about doing this so she said for me to take 50mg daily for 3 weeks then stop , I took my last tablet on Friday, the last few days I have had these weird tingling like shock episodes which I have found quite disturbing and have made me feel anxious , its reasuring to read of other experiences on here to know I am not alone I just hope they pass soon, today is wednesday , I wish I had reduced to 25mg for a few weeks then stopped

  23. Cat says:

    Sertraline was one of the most difficult antidepressants I’ve been on. The anxiety was worse, sex drive nil, and tummy upsets were a regular occurrence. Coming off was difficult, mostly from the “head zaps”. I used to call them “body shocks”. It felt like electric waves surging from head to toe. When I asked my GP and Psychiatrist about it, (this was a few years ago), both of them had not heard of it. I decided to come off them in my own time without telling them. Mainly because I knew that, they would push for a faster reduction. It took 6 months and hundreds of “body-shocks” before I was eventually clean.

    About 2 years ago, the same Psychiatrist made me come off 6 years use of Citalopram within a 2 week period. My brain was completely scrambled. It confirms to me that some of these Doctors don’t know what they are talking about when it comes down to AD’s. They largely work from the Pharmaceutical company guidelines, and I’m not so sure how much trust we can place in them.

    Recently I cut the antidepressant Mirtazapine from 30mg to 15mg and did expect to feel those body-shocks, but nothing. It is the easiest to come off.

  24. L says:

    Hey guys, just to update you on my experience of coming of Sertraline — started coming off it just over 2 weeks ago. Was on 100mg before, my GP told me to take 50mg tablets once daily for a month, then start taking them every other day (which I guess will be for 2 months until I’ve finished the pack). I did ask about cutting the tablets in half to 25g rather than missing out a day, after reading your advice on this. He said he’d never heard of cutting tablets in half and figured that it would be no different to just missing out a day. The other Dr in the room (some kind of ‘double surgery’ was going on at the time?!) said she’d heard of people cutting tablets in half, but again, said she didn’t think it would make much difference since 25mg would be such a low dosage.

    Anyway, up until now I’ve been pretty much fine — just a couple of days where I felt more tense than usual, and finding it a bit harder to concentrate. Kind of different to when I was struggling to concentrate because of the depression though — this is more like a distracted feeling, and not feeling low at all. If anything, I’ve been pretty up. Almost worryingly so. My partner says I’ve gotten weirder and keeps asking if I’ve been taking my medication.

    This evening though, I’ve just felt crap. Tense, low, emotional, confused, woozy, noisy head. Granted, I forgot to take the medication today but that’s never been an issue before and being on half the dosage I thought it would make even less of a difference. I don’t know, but I’m struggling to distract myself from bad thoughts that keep slipping into my mind. It’s making me want to just up the dosage again and be back with my nice safety net.

    L xx

  25. Cat says:

    I’m pleased that the reduction has been going well. What I would expect is that missing one dose is enough to make you feel physical withdrawal at this stage. Your system is probably only just getting used to such a reduction, anything less might be a big thing. Not sure if that makes sense. It might feel rough as you reach the end. I’m not sure why your Doc feels you were on this too long. My own usage has been 13 years, with a handful of various types and I know other people are the same. I appreciate this decision does suit your own thinking, but don’t be afraid of talking it over with the Doc if things start to feel unmanageable. I hope everything goes well

  26. Michael says:

    Passing dizziness. Tinnitus (high pitched ringing). Very gradual weaning. Tearfulness. Terrible sleep. I think it will pass but even having taken three months to wean down from 100mg I wonder if I should have gone from 25daily to 25 every other day as the passing dizziness is annoying. Ho hum.

    • Hi Michael, I had all the symptoms you describe. I weaned myself off so gradually even down to 12.5mg every other day! Eventually after doing that for about 3 weeks, I stopped them altogether. I have now been off the tablets for 3 weeks and the physical symptoms have gone completely.

  27. Kathie Bell says:

    Thank the Lord, I have found you guys! Reading all the posts here, have calmed me down immensely, so I want to start by thanking all of you for sharing. I’ve been taking 100 mg. of Sertaline for 6 years. The inability to lose weight is my reason for coming off. I’m very fortunate in having a doctor that wants me to take a very, very slow approach to this process. A week ago, I completed her course of action. The entire process took 8 weeks but this past week, with no Sertraline, has been a doozy. Right down to me really thinking that I just need to stay on it. My husband talked me into contacting my doctor, which I have done. Just waiting for her to call back with a plan. I’ve had the brain zaps, not sleeping, crying over a very small matter that happened over 30 yrs ago, anxiety, extreme anger …. basically, I’m not the funnest person to be around right now. My poor, patient husband! I can’t imagine trying to do this without strong support beside me.
    Here is what she had me do:
    75 mg daily, 2 wks
    50 mg daily, 2 wks
    25 mg (1/2 tab) daily, 2 wks
    25 mg every other day, 2 wks … then stop.
    It’s been 7 days since the last dose and now I’m having some problems.

    • Kathie Bell says:

      Just wanted to update … now I am to take:
      25 mg daily, 3 wks
      1/2 tab daily, 3 wks
      1/2 tab every other day, 3 wks … then stop.
      We’ll see, but now I’m hopeful!

  28. Debs says:

    Its great to hear I’m not alone having read all your comments on here. I have been on anti-depressants for the last 13 years. I have tried numerous ones, the most recent being sertraline. My doctor increased my dose to 150mg daily but I was feeling so nauseous that I reduced back to 50mg daily. My doctor has recommended I come of them altogether and have counselling. I have been taking 50mg ever other day for a couple of weeks but have been experiencing awful side effects such as feeling lethargic, sickness and having trouble even getting motivated about anything. I think I feel more low now than when I first started the tablets. I have been signed of work for a couple of weeks to get myself sorted. I was wondering if anyone has had the same symptoms, as I am now wondering if its just some sort of bug I have picked up!!!

  29. Mark Tracy Whitehead says:

    Not even sure where to begin. I am 42 yrs. old and until recently, had been taking Sertraline for almost 20 yrs. I started on Zoloft at 24, there were no generics at the time. Only 2 antidepressants in existence at that time, Prozac and the new kid on the block….Zoloft. I started on 50 mg. and took it for roughly 6 months, felt better, went off and was fine for about 6 weeks. Absolutely NO withdrawals what so ever. Did notice going into the winter season things started to get very dark, very quickly (not realizing it was SADD) I jumped back on Zoloft and was advised by therapist I was seeing that I most likely had a genetic chemical imbalance and would need to be on it the rest of my life. Silly, naive me, accepted this advice and never questioned it.

    Fast forward 16 yrs., divorced, dating the love of my life and feeling more content than ever in my life, I thought maybe, perhaps, I don’t need much antidepressants after all (by now I had been switched to Sertraline, a.k.a. Zoloft generic) So, I decided to reduce my dosage to 25mg. Which I took comfortably for the next 2 years. Until, that is, I switched GP’s and when asked what medications I took I told her I took 25mg a day and could comfortably skip a dose (unintentionally, without any significant consequence) at which point she told me that the dose I was taking had no effect whatsoever and that any “relieve” or treatment I thought I was getting on such a low dose was merely psychosomatic. Again…and naively, I trusted the GP and thought, “Well, in that case, why be on it then”, and hopped off it cold turkey.

    This was 5 years ago. I honestly do not recall any major or specific withdrawals at this time, except to say after roughly 6-8 months without my so-called “psychosomatic dose” I was a paranoid, O.C.D., anxious, DEPRESSED, miserable, basket case! My now husband, (the new love of my life, mentioned above) had never seen me like this before. I was on antidepressants when we met and as it turns out the psychosomatic dose was in fact not so psychosomatic after all. It was keeping a lot of negative feelings and darkness at bay. He got me in right away to see a GP who specialized in mental illnesses for years who promptly put me back on sertraline/zolft (100mg daily) since I had had success on it before. A week later I felt the cloud disappearing, a month later I felt completely human again.

    Most recently, I ran out of my Rx prior to a 4 day trip. I thought, what’s 4 days, right? Upon returning from my trip I called the pharmacy to fill my script. Didn’t hear anything for 2 days (still feeling ok so I didn’t panic). I simply called them to see what the hold up was. They explained the prescription refill had run out, I would have to contact doctor. Now 6 days with no meds and doc office was telling me it would be another week until they could get me in and could not refill Rx without an office visit since they had not seen me for awhile, good ol’ Untied States of America! Needless to say, the most remarkable thing happened during this time….

    Sorry for such a long post, but this is an important part of the story if you are to understand how I got to this cross roads…..time to digress for a moment…..

    I had been suffering from migraines and all sorts of other ailments for YEARS. And most recently they had become exponentially worse. I have seen numerous GPs, NAs, chiropractors, gastroenterologist, etc., etc… name it, I’ve tried it, read it, took it….you get the picture. I was sick and no one could figure out why. I can’t even list all the symptoms because they would be as long as this post. Anyway, as I was saying earlier something remarkable happened while I waited to see the doctor so I could get a new script and refill my Sertraline. Almost all the symptoms that had been making my life so unbearably miserable for the last 4 years had suddenly and most unexpectedly disappeared and those that did not completely disappear were all but diminished. Migraines, IBS, tinnitus, inflammation, stiff and sore joints, backaches, neck stiffness and pains, acid reflux, chronic fatigue, brain fog, and many, many more. It then dawned on me that perhaps taking this antidepressant for almost 20 years had perhaps made my body very toxic. After all, I started taking it right after it was first introduced on the market, therefore, essentially I had become, even if inadvertently, a case study for the long term use of this drug. And I was SICK!

    So why am I telling you all this? Well, since all that misery had been my constant companion for so many years and now I was able to get some relief from it all, as you might have guessed, I never did get that prescription filled. Only THIS time I AM experiencing ALL the lovely symptoms of withdrawals everyone is talking about here. The dizziness, brain fog, forgetfulness, irritability, sleeplessness, etc and those are bad enough, but its the moodiness, aggressiveness towards my loved ones that is really getting to me. So at this point I feel like I’m stuck. I don’t know how much longer I can live with this behavior, but don’t want to face to agony of the illnesses I had before either… Look, I am deathly afraid of heights, and it’s like in those movies when the bad guy has just chased the hero to the edge of the cliff and here the hero has to make the ultimate choice; jump 200 ft into a raging river (and he can’t swim) or get shot by the bad guy) if you couldn’t swim and were deathly afraid of heights, which would YOU choose? Some days I think, well, you’re just going to have to shoot me, at least it’s quicker.

    The easy choice seems to be to jump on yet another drug, but I’m scared, I don’t want to face yet another set of side effects but tired of feeling like a monster. I have been off sertraline (cold turkey) for 6weeks. Any hope that the mood behaviors will pass in time or are they just precursors to the depressions and anxiety originally diagnosed with?

  30. Sally says:

    I am in exactly the same situation I have the weird dizziness which worries me as well as feeling out of control. I lurch from anger to crying. I have followed the reduction from my doctor and did it even slower than that. Two weeks off the tablets and I can’t cope.

    • RescueMyLife says:

      Hang in there Sally – I know very well what you’re going through. Everything will settle down after a while – doesn’t help you right now I realise, but knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel is really important. Good luck, stay strong & please let us know your progress. All the best.

  31. Clare says:

    It’s really interesting to read these! I have come of sertraline 50mg after being on them fit 3 years or so. My Doctor told me to half them for a week & then stop all together which I thought was rather drastic!! I did as the doctor said & nearly lost it within 3 days of stopping so took half again! This happened twice but am feeling much happier in my self, it has been 3 week & I am experiencing horrid brain zaps, constant migrane & nausea, it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. I really don’t want to go back on them as suffered with many side effects plus I gained a lot of weight! Is it normal to still feel like this or should I go back to the doctor?
    Thank you

  32. Laura G says:

    Thank you for posting this, your experiences sound very similar to my own so it’s reassuring to find I’m not alone. I was on fluoxetine for a few years and came off that fine with no withdrawal symptoms, like you. I was then off antidepressants for about 3 months before anxiety kicked back in with full force. Went back to doctor and he suggested trying sertraline. Had some horrible nausea when I first started it but it passed and the sertraline really helped with the anxiety. This was about a year and a half ago. At the last 2 medication reviews my doctor kept talking about how I should come off them. So when I had nearly run out 3 weeks ago, I decided to come off them and not go back to doctors as the thought made me nervous. I had a week of 50mg every other day then stopped completely, thinking how I had no problems coming off fluoxetine in this way so this would be the same. Big mistake. The past 2 weeks have been horrible, those brain zaps you mention are hideous and the general fuzzy head is nasty. I’m more anxious too, probably cos I now feel unwell too. However, this post has given me hope that this will pass and finally a name for those brain zaps, I couldn’t think of a way to describe them. Thank you for posting this and for the other commenters sharing their experiences, and thank Google for showing this page when I searched “coming off sertraline”!

  33. jude says:

    Thank you everybody for so openly sharing your experiences with Sertraline. I will try to keep this post as short as I can, while still providing a coherent tale. I am in my early 60’s and have been taking Sertraline for just under 20 years. I’d had depression and anxiety all of my life I think, can clearly remember episodes as early as 7 years of age. I’ve done the lot in terms of trying to get my head sorted via psychiatrists, psychologists, various therapists, meditation, and so on. After a devastating personal incident at 42 and the subsequent immobilising depression, I was finally diagnosed with clinical depression. Sertraline enabled me to continue my career and function in society. I thought “Well, this must be as good as it will ever get”, even though my interest in sex totally disappeared, and I never felt the sense of wellbeing and connectedness with the world that I had often felt when I was young (before Sertraline). Life was really just an existence but at least I could function. I had been told I would have to be on it for the rest of my life, at doses ranging from 100mg – 200mg daily depending on how I was feeling. For about the last 12 years I have felt constantly overheated and dehydrated with all the damage that does to one’s skin, hair and internal organs. Menopause came and went and I continued to feel hot and unwell. Put on 10 kilos and have not been able to shift it. Unable to maintain the energy and motivation to pursue the creative side of my life. Enter a kineasologist a couple of months ago. He did some muscle testing and told me that I needed marine calcium and iodine and my body would be balanced enough to come off Sertraline. Cold Turkey. No Worries!

    You are wondering where my GP is in all this. Well a few years ago I retired, moved to a rural area and bought a hobby farm. Not a lot of doctors in the area, they are all overworked and although I was eventually able to find one who would write me a prescription for the Sertraline, and deal with any injuries, illnesses etc, my experience has been that they don’t have the time or energy to take on much more than that. In any case, it takes weeks to get an appointment. The Accident and Emergency Unit at the local hospital picks up the slack.

    So, back to the Cold Turkey! I stopped the Sertraline approximately 1 month ago. Just stopped taking the 100mg/daily dose. Side effects so far are vertigo, tinnitus, nausea, flu-like symptoms with pain all through my body, headaches, fever, shivering uncontrollably, sweats, crying, rage and a very unhappy liver. I guess I have the brain zaps, there have been some very weird sounds when I move my head quickly and a disconnected sort of wooziness? So, the kineasologist was sympathetic but pointed out that it is just my body detoxing. I had kind of worked that out for myself, but as annoyed as I am at what I consider to be his lack of duty of care, I am determined to get through it and stay off the Sertraline. Already my liver is cooling down and I’m feeling less toxic. I live in a beautiful environment and because I don’t have to go out into the world every day and present an acceptable persona, I have the time and space to ride the rollercoaster I’m on until I get back onto an even keel. At the end of this I will find out who I am now “sans sertraline”. I will try to keep you posted.

    • wendy says:

      Hi I have been taking sertraline 50mg for over 2 years now as most people was told to miss a day and take one over 2 weeks and stop, my last tablet was Thursday, had bad heads and feel irritable and upset at the smallest of things, debating whether I have come off too quick and to get some more or just to persevere.

  34. donna says:

    Im coming off sertraline and feel just how you do…not nice at all…sick…dizzy…disorientated..irritable ..finding work really tough…im a chef so not a good place to be dizzy…it is nice to havd someone write about there feelinfs which are exactly the same as mine… good luck xxxx

  35. I’m coming off Sertraline at the moment and have only had a very small amount of dizziness. That being said, I have strictly followed my doctors advice to cut my usual 100mg once a daily dosage into 50mg for 10 days and then 25mg for 7 days. Tapering works, honestly. I’ve done it with at least five anti depressants and have never once experienced horrific symptoms. When I was taking Sertraline when I was 15 and I stopped abruptly, that was hell. Never again.

  36. Pens says:

    I’m just coming into 2nd week free of sertraline after being on 50mg for 2 years. My GP advised reduce dose every other day for 10 days then stop. But I decided to reduce to 50mg alternate days with 25mg on the opposite days for 2 weeks then 25mg daily for 2 weeks eventually 25mg only every other day for 2 weeks then stopped. I am having the brain shocks quite a lot, slowly getting easier now and the tinnitis on and off throughout the day which has been quite interesting to deal with. Mood wise however I feel fairly stable at the moment, I had a terrible few years with depression described as post traumatic depression by my counsellor. Thanks to some fantastic counselling and diagnosis of premature menopause and starting hrt my mental well being has massively improved. Hopefully when the tinnitis and brain shocks stop I will feel a whole lot better. Thanks for everyone sharing your stories, they have really helped me understand a bit better what is going on with my body. Good luck to everyone.

  37. Hilary says:

    I am so glad to have found this blog. We sound like the same person – 43, single and muddling along in London. Anyway, has anyone else noticed that despite having a better mental calm and peace, their body’s are worse off on sertraline? Ive been on for a year now, and my first 4 weeks were hellish (chronic diarrea, eye problems, palpitations etc) but overall I notice that my stamina and strength have diminished. From the start I suffered with breathlessness, and tiredness but I realise that my body does feel weaker – my muscles always ache and Ive lost muscle definition in my legs. I cant remember doing a rigorous work out in the past year and dont dance and run around like I used to beforehand. I have put on weight and dont have the same control over my sweet tooth. But it did save my life so I am not complaining (too much) But for my physical well being I am keen to come off. I feel like my body is unwell, achey, stiff etc and its not worth it. My main worry is that Ive not enough support as Im new to London and coming out of a divorce so its a risky thing to do, and I am really afraid of the black hole of depression.

    Anyone else with the breathlessness, and weak muscles? and did it ever change after sertraline?

  38. Gripper says:

    I was put on Sertraline 50mg in November 2013 because of occasional anxiety attacks – not for depression. It took about 3 months to kick in and I can’t deny that I have felt better for it. However, its side-effects are now more than I am prepared to take – I have mouth ulcers, upset stomach (I have IBS and Sertaline has aggravated it), and incredibly disturbing dreams. From time to time I also feel slightly breathless, and I suspect Sertraline is also responsible for recent hair-loss, which although not serious is certainly something I never experienced previously during my 68 years. I do enjoy my red wine, which I haven’t kicked (in fact my g.p. is an active member of a local wine club and has told me many times that, taken in moderation, red wine can be beneficial – and I’m not prepared to argue with him!), and I don’t think that it has caused me any problems since I’ve been on Sertraline. Last week I decided to come off the drug, and began by taking half a tablet (25gm) a day, in the evening rather than in the morning, which has been my normal practice. Almost immediately the dreams stopped, which is a huge relief as I have difficulty getting back to sleep if a dream wakes me. My mouth is also much less sore. I will be seeing my g.p. later this week – he did actually suggest a few weeks ago that I should consider coming off Sertraline after about 9 months, providing that I feel an improvement from it. What I do NOT want is a return to anxiety attacks, which although they never lasted very long were sometimes quite distressing for both myself and my wife. As I was prescribed only 50mg doses, I wonder what it must be like for people on 200mg and even higher? It’s the first time in my life I’ve been on an anti-depressant and I would have to say that although Sertaline has had a positive effect, it is also having seriously negative effects and I really have had enough. I hope my experiences with kicking Sertaline won’t be as alarming as those suffered by some posters to this blog – so far, so good, but it’s only been a week and I feel I really should advise my g.p. about my decision and listen to what he has to say.

  39. Kayla says:

    This was very helpful thank you, i have been on Sertraline for approx. 6/7 months now haven’t had a chance to get to my GP to renew my prescription so haven’t taken them for a week now, within the last 2 days i have started getting random pulsating feelings throughout my body and random disorientated feelings too, mood swings(very angry then crying then slightly happy) I’m getting my script tomorrow so hopefully start feeling great again (: thank you again for posted how you have reacted, has helped a lot.
    Even though this was posted 2 years ago (:

  40. Taree says:

    I have been on sertraline for 6 months for my anxiety. I have gained alot of weight and have no motivation to exercise. I was on 50mg and two days ago I have gone to 25mg a day. I have an appointment with my GP today. My GP stated that sertraline does not put on weight I disagree and I want off them. I have also been having the craziest dreams.
    I really hope I don’t get those brain zaps.
    Good luck guys.

  41. RescueMyLife says:

    My sincere apologies to Lynette, Wendy, Gripper, Kayla & Taree for not moderating your comments sooner – all comments are very welcome and I usually moderate within minutes, but I changed my phone about a month ago and clearly haven’t mastered it yet! RML

  42. Gripper says:

    Have been on half-dose (25mg) for 3 weeks now. Nothing really serious, but I’m getting occasional breathlessness and nagging headaches. On the positive side, the weird dreams have declined both in frequency and weirdness, and my IBS is a bit less bothersome than when I was on the 50mg dose. So far, no major depressions or anxieties. Another week of this, then it’s 25mg every other day. It’s good to share experiences – I know quite a few people who just abruptly stopped taking anti-depressants, and nearly all of them had a bad time as a result – my wife went through that with Seroxat and it was very unpleasant for both of us.

  43. Gripper says:

    Finished my 4 weeks of 25mg (half-dose) a day, now at end of first of 4 weeks of 25mg every other day. No real problems or frights, but I do get the very occasional brain-zap, usually in the morning, but they’re not unpleasant enough to worry about. No negative feelings, anxieties, etc. On reflection, the major problem I had with Sertralin was that it quite badly upset my stomach; my GP says it may take a while for my tum to settle down even when I’m fully off Sertralin.

  44. Gripper says:

    Have now been totally off Sertralin for 2 weeks after gradually reducing dosage over 2 months. I’m still getting occasional brain-zaps, but my stomach seems to have (almost) cleared up. However, I wake some days with a feeling nausea, which gradually goes off but is still rather unpleasant. I am also having mood swings, going from a feeling almost of euphoria to being the grumpy, irritable elderly man my wife says I’ve become. I hope to God this sorts itself out. And I’m still having crazy dreams, perhaps not as crazy as when I was taking SertraIin, but crazy enough. I also agree with Taree who says that Sertralin can make you gain weight. To review the situation, I now regret, with the benefit of hindsight, that I ever went on Sertralin, Yes, it seems to have cleared up the anxiety attacks which were the reason I was prescribed it, but compared with the “side effects” I have experienced I think I’d rather have put up with the anxiety. It’s very useful and helpful to read comments by others on this Forum. When I first went on Sertralin I did ask my GP at the time what if any side-effects I could expect, and was advised that they would be few and mild. No! Wrong! At least in my experience they are many and some are anything but mild, especially the effect the damn stuff had on my digestive system. Would I ever take it again? Would I ever recommend it to anyone? NO WAY! Good luck to everyone coming off Sertralin, and I hope your experiences aren’t quite as unpleasant as mine. Cold Turkey is best left for Boxing Day!

  45. Gripper says:

    Off the Damned Stuff for 6 weeks now, and I think ( hope) it’s out of my system at last. No brain zaps, no digestive problems (at least not that I can pin on Sertralin), no mad dreams. Still getting occasional mood-swings, but not as bad as a month ago. So far I haven’t had an anxiety attack, the reason why I went on Sertraline in the first place. It’s been an experience, and I have to say not a good one. How are others coping? It would be very interesting to hear.

  46. Pingback: New Treatments For Depression » Blog Archive Tapering Off 100 Mg Zoloft

  47. JP says:

    Thanks Gripper for sharing your experience. I’ve been on Sertraline for 5 years and would like to come off. I’m nervous about doing it and want to do it slowly enough to minimise any withdrawal symptoms. I’m on 50 mg and think the best way would be to cut the tablet in half then a quarter. I’m hoping maybe a week of each but after being on it for so long am prepared to take longer if I experience any symptoms.

  48. Eddy p says:

    I’m having the same wired dizzy zaps, have you found out from a doctor if it’s anything serious?

  49. Humphrey says:

    Hey man,

    I had been on zoloft for 2 years after a major depression episode but recently (2 weeks or so) I went camping for 4-5 days and accidentally forgot my sertraline (zoloft) pills.

    I was only on 50mg but within 4 days I was fine, no real attitude or emotional tremors except for the sam brain zaps you guys have been talking about.

    It’s very frustrating when every 3-4 times you move your eyes, it feels like someone is putting the inputs of a 12 volt battery for a split second on the back of your brain.

    It’s not getting worse but is pronounced moreso whenever I have a beer or the occasional joint.

    Besides the luxuries of life is beers etc, when can I expect these brain zaps to dissipate?

    Much love and respect to my fellow indigo children!


  50. Jennifer says:

    Omg am in the same boat rite now it’s bloody Awlful , I stopped mine 3weeks ago I felt brilliant ,alive , I did get the brain zaps 1st week that went away , few tears , very edgy but this week has. Be the worst week ever , with stress , pulled muscle in neck/ back , my carpal tunnel is getting worst my body’s aching how long more to ride this out I’m thinking ,?? Never again am so sorry I took the bloody tablet , I was only tAking them a few months ,& yes like u say I liked my moods on the but I feel more alive now off them helpppp someone when does this stop

  51. Angela ellis says:

    I came off my 50mg sertraline slowly over 2-3 weeks, I have been light headed, woozy and had even more weird dreams now I’m of them completely than I did on them and they were bad enough. I’ve had some finger numbness and eye stabs (brain zaps)? I’m taking a pic of my face daily to see if I start to look better.. No sign yet.

    Generally though, I am caring more. These meds made nothing really matter. If I didn’t go out, it didn’t matter. Now (having been in the house for 4 days on the pretence of sorting it out) I mind that I didn’t get out in the sun. I feel upset that I’ve missed out on a nice weekend, I mind that my family bickered over easter lunch and I felt emotional watching a moving film… I’m comforted by this, as I don’t think I was genuinely feeling much.

  52. Rebecca Jane says:

    I’m so glad this conversation is still going on because I have been thinking about coming off sertraline for a while, and all of the comments have been so useful. Angela, I know what you mean, I remember what it feels like to care about things again, to feel something about a sunny day, and my family, and make plans for the future days and weeks. I’d thought that sertraline wasn’t really doing much for me anymore – been on it 4 years, and that it was just a nice warm blanket that helped me cope. then I started to cut down, and then I forgot to take it a couple of days, and I began to feel like me again, and I’d forgotten what that was like. Here I am again! Like seeing an old friend. I think it was affecting me more and more as time went on and medication doesn’t usually do that does it? Eating more, less motivated, tired, no feelings, risky behaviour, mainly I think because I was just trying to get a feeling somehow. Anyway I’m taking it slowly, and not many effects. Cutting tablets into smaller and smaller bits. Happy to stay at a level for a while before cutting down more, to help my body do this. WE MUST BE PATIENT WITH OURSELVES, THESE THINGS HAVE BEEN OK, HELPED FOR A WHILE, THERES NO BIG HURRY TO STOP. Well done to us all, let’s hang in there and feel those feelings- it’s what makes us who we are 🙂 Dizzy turns have been better when I’m cutting down slower, but are worth it I think- its our brains chucking out the stuff, and is worth putting up with.

  53. J says:

    Hi you need to go back onto fluroxitine then ween off them , it’s Easter trust me

  54. Ally says:

    Hi, I too have just come off Sertraline and had to google the symptoms and thankfully came across your blog. I am experiencing the exact same dizziness and its really alarming as I feel I could literally pass out at anytime and am not in control, there is a constant weird feeling in my head all the time too like someone is squeezing my brain lol, sounds extreme but is the only way to describe it and I have only been off them a week!! I also find myself snapping if the slightest thing goes wrong, and have the same dilemma, do I go back on them or not… and how long is this hell going to last, the severe nausea and dizziness is constant!!

    • Jon doe says:

      Like I said above but tards don’t be listening , most off the new antidepressants have a very short half life which means there peed out of the body quickly , which means as you ween off them your gona have major sides , iff you switch to fluroxitine is Prozac and reduce to 20 Mg every two days you will have zero sides , then keep slowly lowering the dose till you decide to stop all together which you will still get mild affects dizziness and brain Zapps but no where near as bad , enjoy

    • Cc says:

      How long did it last?

      • Ally says:

        Hi, I would say the symptoms of brain zaps and feeling horrendous lasted me about three weeks after stopping at 50mg and then taking nothing.. got headaches after those three weeks for a few days and then was ok.. have been off Sertraline a long time now, still have alot of anxiety sometimes, but I find I am able to function better and think more clearly without it now.

  55. Vicky says:

    The past 2 weeks of coming off my tablets have been fine then this week am anxious on edge dizzy headaches heart is racing am feeling anger am so scared am cryin and feel like I might crashing down. Hot sweats 2 Am trying 2 put it at the back of my mind cos I know deep down its the side effects

  56. Brian says:

    Thank you everyone I thought I was going mad been on 200 mg sertraline for 2 years. I went on a working holiday for a week and forgot my Medes been suffering really bad headaches and the electric shocks in my head. I have also been showing disorientation and feeling rather nauseous .
    I want to come off these tablets as quick as possible but after reading a lot of these posts I’ve realised il have to do it slowly. I’ve never been much for these sites but can I just say a very big thank you to all on here and hope everyone gets back to a rich fulfilling life.

  57. Lori says:

    Before I start I really want people reading to know that you really need to find what works best for you. Most importantly what Doesn’t work for someone may work for you. I have been dealing with depression for 2 decades now. What started out as what I thought was seasonal continued to get worse throughout the years, especially with having children. 6 years ago I almost lost my marriage due to post partum, to put it nicely I was a bitch to be around. Since then and another child I have struggled with depression. I have tried a few different medications with sertaline being the most recent and worst reacting to me. I continued having that dark cloud while taking and didn’t have allot of patience. I increased my dose from 50 to 100 and things got worse. For the last three months I have had weird anxiety attacks for no reason, one at my girls dance recital of all places. That wasn’t the worst of it. While on the medication I would have these gapped out moments where I would lose train of thought and couldn’t remember what I was just talking about. I drive allot for work and found times where I didn’t think I should even be driving. I have been worried that there is more going on that I stopped taking the medication cold turkey which I know your not suppose to do but to be honest I figured it couldn’t be much worse than what I had been going through. It has been a week. I have felt nauseous, upset stomach, really tired and still gapped out. I also feel like me again. I have laughed more in the last two days than I did last month. I’m fearful because I still have depression and worry if or when it catches up to me. But I needed to find out if it was the medication or more going on. I really think that this medication will work really well for some and believe that there is a medication out there for me. It sucks when dealing with depression and/or anxiety that it is really trial and error and that if your on a medication for awhile it can lose its benefits, but I am optimistic that there is a medication that will work. Would love to come back a year from now saying I’m cured but won’t be down on myself if not.

  58. Susan Blyth says:

    Hi, i have been on sertraline for 6 months now. It isnt helping my depression at all. I have no motivation at all. Currently taking 200mg daily. Be thanful for any advice

  59. Gripper says:

    I came off Sertraline about 2 years ago. It had been prescribed for anxiety attacks. While taking the stuff was not a pleasant experience, coming off it was worse, and I did it according to the book and gradually reduced daily dosage. I have to say that over the past 6 months or so I have not had an anxiety attack, nor do I worry like I used to about minor day-to-day problems. I suppose I have to put this improvement down to Sertraline. What I would say to anyone who is prescribed Sertraline is to think hard about whether you think the side-effects and the cold turkey are worth it in terms of getting over your anxiety, depression, etc. I wouldn’t go back on it for anything (at least that’s how I feel now), but do have to say that it seems it does what it says on the tin – well, it did for me, anyway. All the best to everyone.


  60. Carole says:

    So pleased to find this blog!!! Coming off Sertraline after being on it for 1year , gradually reduced and totally finished for 1week.Not happy with the weight gain and now weird dreams ,brain zaps sweating and feeling very down but I am going to keep going and hopefully these symptoms (plus weight) will disappear.

    • Helen says:

      Hiya Carol how do you feel now? I’m trying to come off after 6 years and I gained almost 2 stone, so I’m hoping this will budge with reducing the Sertraline from 100mg – 75mg, seen your post and thought I’d see how you were getting on x

  61. Billy says:

    Hi everyone , Don’t know if my case is relevant ! I am a 62 year old man and I have suffered ( survived apparently) 2 strokes and subsequent medication ! I was prescribed Sertraline mainly I think because I was feeling a bit sorry for myself and showing ” symtoms ” of ” depression ” on a scheduled visit to my GP. He couldn’t get me on this drug fast enough and in retrospect I should have possibly been more alert to the consequences. At the time (2 years ago) I was on various drugs to help me with the after effects of the strokes and another one added to the cocktail!
    Now I am in the initial stages of withdrawal from Sertraline and getting most of the symtoms mentioned in the other posts. I did try to get info from my GP mainly in respect of feeling exhausted, weak and having severe joint pains . The response was that if he was carrying my weight ,” he would feel tired as well ” I have put on about 20lbs since my stroke . So no help there.
    I have tapered off the dosage over the last 6 months or so , initially from 100mg every day to 100mg every other day then dropping to 50mg and then same reduction . I stopped completely 9 days ago and now I am on the rollercoaster of these symptoms.
    My general health is relatively good , I no longer work and I have no ” visible” signs of my however remains very difficult for my family and friends to appreciate my current ” condition ” which I find particularly frustrating. I know my mood swings are now more prevalent and noticeable and the fact that I am no longer consuming any alcohol in my attempt to get off Sertraline makes them worry even more I think !
    I think this Blog is great because it reminds others that ” you” are not “Knocking on Heavens Door ” or approaching ” Desolation Row ” and that we can all cope in our own way !
    I now feel better for all that ! Many thanks and best wishes to all.

  62. Helen says:

    Hi I’m so glad I’ve found this site. I’ve been on 100mg Sertraline for about 6 years. I’ve tried a few times to come off it by halving the dose but the depression symptoms came back.

    The last 4 days I’ve reduce to 75mg Sertraline and I’m bad tempered, crying, feeling low and arguing with colleagues :-(, who are surprised as I’m quite even tempered & laid back on sertraline. I want to come off them as I’m always tired an I know this is a side effect of Sertraline. I’m not doing this under Drs supervision just off my own back at the moment but when renew will discus it with her then. Did anybody else feel like this & did it subside? Thanks for your help x

  63. Paul says:

    Hey guys been reading your comments about sertraline I was on mine 50mg for around 12 months and I was perhaps very naughty and have been cold turkey from mine for about a month now…. I can associate with the brain zaps as experienced by Mr anonymous almost like an out of body experience really weird …I do still feel rather odd this past week almost dizzy at times and a bit spaced out almost a re reversal of how I felt when I started taking them….unsure has to how much longer these symptoms will persist but I’m monitoring everything so far…haven’t told my g.p either as I don’t really wish to be lectured if I’m honest just thought I’d share my experience so far with this drug….have to say they did help me through a very dark time in my life of which things have improved which is why I decided to stop taking them…the past has gone now….the rest is now surrounding myself with positive surroundings and people and a different mind set 🙂

  64. Gripper says:

    Seems there’s some confusion concerning just why Sertraline is prescribed. In my case I asked the doctor if he could prescribe something for my on-going anxiety attacks, not depression. Reading the posts here it looks like GP’s are also describing it for depression. Well, I ain’t medically qualified so can’t take issue with a doctor or medicine. On the positive side I have to say that after 2 1/2 years since I came off Sertraline I’ve felt much better in terms of reduced levels of anxiety – once I’d got over the cold-turkey, that is. However, I honestly doubt if I’d ever be induced to go back onto Sertraline. I mentioned the bad cold-turkey to my GP and he didn’t really have much to say about it, except to comment along the lines that you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. It’s odd that a GP or a dentist will give you reams of advice regarding the side- and after-effects of, say, a powerful antibiotic, but not it seems a drug such as Sertraline.

  65. Billy says:

    Hi Again , Would agree that this drug seems to be prescribed for an array of issues. In my case it was one of a cocktail of post stroke ” treatments ” I have now been off Setraline for 4 months and feeling all the better for it ! I as others came off in a structured fashion ( described in my last post Sept 2016) and although I no longer have ( thank goodness) brain zaps I still on occasion have sensations of dizziness and anxiety. The worry is that there is little ” noise” coming from any recognised medical source on the perils of being prescribed this drug. When I questioned my own GP on trying to come off he said that I could ” just stop” !! When I pointed out that the details on the leaflet within the package stated the contrary he became quite irate! In fact he insisted that it wasn’t addictive! When I again questioned this he made the distinction between ” addication and reliance ” as if that made any difference as to how that in reality effects the patient. I think the wory is that GPs have little or no knowledge of these common side effects.
    I think I have yet to rid myself of all effects of this drug particularly with mood swings! On a positive note I feel so much better having escaped this drug , albeit with no help from my GP.
    For those of us who are still working at it please continue being positive and stay healthy. Thanks to this Blog I had the support to improve my health and wellbeing . Keep up the good work!

  66. Alison says:

    I am now where you were 4 years ago on week 4 and spiralling down, I’m teary self loathing and wondering if there really is a way back to how I felt when my mind was happy and focused. I know you wrote this 4 yrs ago but any tips would be gratefully revived thanks x

    • RescueMyLife says:

      Hi Alison, sorry it’s taken so long to reply to you. I hope things are better for you now. It took a while for me, it really was a case of taking each day, each hour as it comes and some days were awful. I think the worst thing about it was not knowing how long I was going to feel like that and experience the weird brain zaps. Slowly things did calm down. I can’t remember exactly the time frame, but it may have taken as much as 2-3 months for me to feel ‘normal’ again, so if you’re still suffering, just try to hang in there a bit longer you’ll be ok. If it’s proving too much then you should see your doc. Good luck – you’re not alone. RML

  67. D Harmer says:

    Please tell me it gets better….

    • RescueMyLife says:

      It gets better. It really does. Hang in there. It took me a rather uncomfortably long time, but slowly the crappy effects of ‘Sertraline withdrawal’ subsided and disappeared. I do still get the occasional gentle reminder of the brain zaps – very rarely – maybe once every couple of months – usually when I’ve just woken up. It’s no longer unpleasant or alarming. The mood swings, self-loathing, awful anxiety and emotional rollercoaster will pass. They really will. Try to distract yourself from the worst of them as best you can and just take each day as it comes. Eventually things will settle. You’ll be ok just hang in there. Good luck.

  68. Dominic says:

    It’s great to have articles like this out there on the net to reassure others that it’s ok to go through this.
    For the past 12 months, I have been feeling like me again occasionally, having been on Sertaline for, I dunno, 4 years on and off. Doctor advised to try to come off. Reduced from 100mg to 50 mg. This is week 6 roughly. And it’s been rough at times with, as mentioned above, anxiety, emotions, teary, etc but also with the feeling that those emotions were artificial and not deep-rooted like the original depression and anxiety. Was thinking of going back to the doc and going back up in dose. But thanks to the shared experiences in the original article and comments will persevere for now.

  69. Jane McDonald says:

    I am experiencing these symptoms the worst are the brain zaps and the dizziness having to grab hold of whatever is nearest..quite scary also scared i pass out..Try to keep going as they are affecting my blood need to come off them ..Not easy..

  70. Josef Strydom says:

    Good Morning
    The way you came off of serdep doesn’t sound healthy and dangerous. I personally take it slow I weaned myself just the reverse I way I started.

  71. Sarah says:

    Hello Everyone
    I have never posted anything on a site like this before but I have been the unwilling victim of withdrawal this last few days, as I forgot to renew my prescription for Sertraline just before a bank holiday. I found this when looking for reassurance that I wasn’t about to die – which all of your honest accounts have given me, so I felt I should contribute by way of thanks.

    I am on 50 mg daily so it didn’t even occur to me that a few days without would be a problem, as my friend is on 150 and he goes off and on it all the time (thinking about, it the fact that he keeps going back on is probably a red flag!).

    As a result I have had pain EVERYWHERE, stress, nausea and stomach cramps, my ears feel weird and, when I turn my head, my brain and eyeballs do their own thing! I am doing my very own little re-enactment of Trainspotting (the movie not the hobby!), with paracetamol, cups of tea and a few glasses of Pinot replacing hallucinating, vomiting and weird babies crawling on the ceiling. I just found ONE tablet that I had forgotten about and fell on it like a starving woman on a peanut – please may the effects kick in soon and the chemist be open tomorrow! But reading shared experiences and knowing this is ‘normal’ is really reassuring – which is why sites like this are so valuable.

    Experiencing this, my advice would be NEVER do cold turkey – it is HORRIBLE!!!! Also it is sad that so many people feel negatively about themselves for being on anti-depressants and try to come off for this reason.

    I popped a disc a while ago (moving a hen-house of all things) and was plunged into a world of pain and inactivity which triggered depression – Sertraline was a god-send. I refused to take it to start with because I ‘was not that kind of person’, I ‘could beat this on my own’ and I thought I would be horribly ill from the side affects or turn into a zombie.

    When I finally gave up and took it YES the initial side effects were horrible – having an out of body experience on the motorway was unsettling, and I had nausea, a sore throat and a light head – but it passed, my GP rang me regularly to see how I was and suggested I took it at night, so it would help me sleep and most of the side-effects would be gone by morning. My grades at Uni have gone stratospheric because I can order my thoughts and not panic, I still cry like a baby at movies – but it doesn’t go on for 2 days, and I enjoy life again. Down sides? Some. Occasional heartburn, drinking can bring back the depression (bye-bye Pinot!), less pleasure in food but a newly developed sweet tooth (family bag of jelly beans? yes please!) which has resulted in a little Sertraline-induced belly expansion. But NONE of this compares to what I was going through before Sertraline.

    I REFUSE to feel ‘less than’ for taking anti-depressants – if I had diabetes would I deny myself medication? I will take them for as long as I need them. I also refuse to be ashamed of depression and have been completely open about it – if people are uncomfortable with it I don’t need them! If someone won’t give me a job because of it I don’t want to work for them! As a result of this I have found MANY people I know have had, or have, mental health issues and have given me support and the benefit of their wisdom and I have been able to support others.

    I am sorry this is so long but I hope it is useful. My advice? Do not feel ‘less than’, do not do cold turkey, demand good service from your health practitioner or change them, take your medication as long as you need it, and if it, or your dosage, is not working for you get it changed, only come off it because YOU are ready, not because you feel you should, and again NO COLD TURKEY!

  72. NC says:

    This was written 5 years ago. I wonder how you are now? How long *did* it take for the withdrawal symptoms to go away? This is the only article I found that mentioned the alarming brain zaps (I like the way you worded it!), which I’m experiencing too. But I had similar sensations even before I went on to serdep, but it was more dull and prolonged, more like a silent din, i.e, the feeling of a din without the sound of a din. I don’t want to be on any meds but I am under extreme chronic stress and I’m worried about just how much I can take, even if my mind is strong, how strong is my body?

    • Amanda says:

      I too decided to go Cold turkey, mainly because I have run out of tablets and haven’t got the time to see my GP. I was also not convinced it was working. I had some horrendous episodes of luathing and anxiety. I had been leaving work early, couldn’t focus and ultimately lost my job, so felt something f needed to change.
      It has been about 10 days.
      The first weeks symptoms were mainly nightmares. Horrific nightmares. There were tears at films, but I’ve always been emotional. Apart from this I was starting to think it was going to be ok. I was on Prozac a few years ago and also just stopped.
      Trying to study today though has been really hard. I feel exhausted today. Horrendous headache, woozy feeling. I have a few rough days ahead at work coming and am now scared I won’t cope.
      I just want to be normal, and reading the 5 or so years of posts make me feel that this is only the start 😞

      • Ally says:

        Stick with it…. you will be ok..I felt horrendous coming off sertraline too.. but two years on it has been the best thing i did, feel so much better.

  73. Beverly Franklin Robertson says:

    My point of view is from the other side. My husband was on a high dosage of sertraline for several years. He was recently hospitalized for two weeks with pneumonia that resulted in acute respiratory failure. He is doing much better physically, but while he was in the hospital, he did not receive his sertraline. He was intubated and sedated for more than a week, and feels that he is over the hump, so to speak, of withdrawal symptoms. This is not what I see. I can’t speak to physical symptoms, because he hasn’t reported any to me. I can speak to his demeanor. He has become hyper-critical of me, and angry at the slightest thing. I know he has been through a lot. He nearly died. I wonder if anyone has any suggestions as to how I can approach him about his behavior toward me. I want to help, and at the same time, I don’t want to be a doormat.

  74. Gripper says:

    I was prescribed Sertraline for anxiety attacks. It worked, but I found it had unpleasant side-effects, which I and others have detailed above. When I decided to come off it, I took advice from posters to these forums and did it gradually….ever so gradually. I had brain zaps, but not as bad as some people describe; and I had tummy problems, but again not terribly bad. I stopped taking Sertraline about 3 years ago (something like that, time really flies when you’re my age!), and all seemed well until about 2 months ago, when out of the blue one morning – I was driving at the time – I realised that I was having an anxiety attack. It didn’t last long, and I more or less forgot about it, but about 10 days ago I had another one, at night, when I was in bed. It just hit me. This time it was not at all pleasant, and lasted into the next day. My heart sank – the very thought of having to go back to depending on Sertraline is causing me grief, and I will resist it. I’m hoping my anxiety attacks won’t be like the nuclear ones I had before I went onto Sertraline, and so far they haven’t been; I had another one today, about two hours ago, but it didn’t last long I’m happy to say. This time, if these horrible experiences continue, I shall try CBT – Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – which is, as I understand it, totally not medication-related. I know two people who opted for CBT rather than a medication-based treatment for anxiety, and both of them tell me it has been worthwhile.

    I wrote some time ago that I would never, ever recommend Sertraline to anyone, not even my worst enemy; and that includes myself. Wild horses wouldn’t drag me back to it – I still have some locked away in a cupboard, and there it will stay.

    I would be very interested to hear from any former Sertraline user who, after coming off it, experience renewed anxiety attacks, and what steps were taken to alleviate matters – if any.


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