going through hell weaning off zoloft - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 18 Old 04-30-2008, 05:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been taking 100 mg of zoloft for about 6 months. i decided that i want to wean off. i'm taking vitamins and exercising more and the stressors in our lives have died down a lot. i'm tired of having NO libido and getting fatter on it.

so i started weaning. my therapist told me to go to 50 mg for 2 weeks, then 25 mg for 2 weeks then off. most people who wean off it do this no problem

so i was fine on the 50 and the 25 but by the time i went from 25 mg to zero i had HORRIBLE bounce-back anxiety, headaches, vertigo, nausea, derealization, etc.

so i went back to 10 mg and stayed on that for 2 weeks. the headaches continued.

yesterday i decided to try not taking it. i had a god awful headache ALL day and felt like crap.

today i took a TINY amount, maybe like 3 mg or something. the headache is back again.

how long is this going to happen? i've had a headache all day, every day for like 3 weeks. my therapist says this is not at all typical. it SUCKS. i wish i had never started taking this drug. i'm scared that my brain is so dependent on it.

what can i do? nothing makes the headaches go away, not tylenol or ibuprofin. i'm taking 5 HTP (up to 150 mg a day) and still the omega 3s and b vitamins. sometimes taking .5 mg of ativan seems to help my head from swimming.

how long is this going to go on? should i just cold turkey and tough it out? how long will that take? my therapist says i could take prozac and then wean off the prozac...i dont want any more of this in my system, though.

help!

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#2 of 18 Old 04-30-2008, 07:59 PM
 
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STOP the 5 HTP. This could be the root of the problems.

I did have really bad headaches weaning off of zoloft, but they only came every couple of days and were manageable with tylenol, hot showers, and rest. CHOCOLATE helped me get through the withdrawals. Whenever I started feeling bad, some chocolate and soda (caffeine?) helped it go right away.

Headaches are really common weaning off zoloft. You should have gone to 12.5 mg every day for 2-3 weeks, and then 12.5 every other day for a week or so. You have to do it PAINSTAKINGLY slowly, and even then expect some withdrawals. I had 2 nights where I did not sleep. At all. Not one bit. And the headaches. And some of the brain zapping. And some body aches. But none of it was so bad that I couldn't take it. Plus, I knew what it was which made it better for me.

I've heard Benadryl is helpful for withdrawals.

Six months is NOT long enough to be on the drug, though. You need to take it a minimum of 9 months for it to work. 9-12 months is recommended. You have a greater chance of relapse if you quit too soon. And then, in a second episode of depression, the research says you need 3-5 YEARS on it to make permanent changes. I would take the 3 more months on it if I were you rather than risk needing it for 3 years. Just my opinion.

Why do you want off of it so soon? Are you gaining weight? Sexual side effects? I had both of these problems, but I did stick it out for the full year and then some, in order to get the best chance of staying off meds permanently now.

I would go back on it, 12.5 mg for at least another month. Or even 25. 25 is a baby dose. Preteen dose. Take 25 mg for a month or two and then go down to 12.5 for a month and then stop. Then you have a better chance of being successful.

Hope this helps. Sorry you are having so much trouble. It sounds like you, like me, are very sensitive to the stuff.

Oh, and STAY OFF THE INTERNET. Don't read any of the horror stories about meds. It only makes things harder.

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#3 of 18 Old 04-30-2008, 09:10 PM
 
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#4 of 18 Old 04-30-2008, 10:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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actually i just started taking the 5-htp two days ago in response to the headaches and today i feel a lot better than i did...kinda weird.

i know they say to stay on it for 9 months to a year, but i just can't. there are a bunch of reasons why. i feel like i never really needed to be on it, but i went to a therapist who just gives you drugs and that just about it. no therapy, etc... i cant stand the way it makes me feel. i'm a zombie. but there are other reasons i cant stay on it as well.

i dont know why she told me to go from 25 mg to 0...i am going to try to stay at this very low dose and then every other day. i will try the chocolate (although i really dont need any more weight gain)

i think i am really sensitive to it.

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#5 of 18 Old 05-01-2008, 01:18 PM
 
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If you take any zoloft at all, do NOT take the 5HTP. You risk serotonin syndrome which you do not want.

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#6 of 18 Old 05-01-2008, 01:57 PM
 
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Yeah, I briefly weaned from zoloft at 6 months and felt like crappola, too. I ended up getting back on because the depression came back, but for you, I would recommend you follow the pp's suggestions and try to wean off more slowly. My doc also told me that most people have no problems going from 25mg to 0, but like you, I thought it SUCKED. Seems like you already tried to "tough it out", and your body is telling you that this isn't working, so you need to try a different approach.

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#7 of 18 Old 05-01-2008, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have never had depression. i was having anxiety and insomnia because of a ton of stress that was going on...so i'm not worried about depression returning. i don't know, i feel like it helped me, but i'm done with it. these past two days on like 3 mg have been ok. i'm going to stay at that level and then try to go off from there!

i will stop the 5-HTP. i was taking it because i read in the mood cure that it can help you wean off an SSRI...they were suggesting you do take it during weaning off (?)

thanks, everyone!

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#8 of 18 Old 05-01-2008, 02:04 PM
 
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#9 of 18 Old 05-01-2008, 04:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mom0810 View Post
And some of the brain zapping.
What do you mean by brain zapping? I had a weird experience one night after my antidepressant dose was increased and I'm wondering if it's something that happens a lot.

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#10 of 18 Old 05-01-2008, 06:19 PM
 
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It is something that happens a lot. It's like an electrical sensation in your brain. A zap. Like it takes a second for your head to catch up with your eyes. Something like that. They go away after two weeks or so.

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#11 of 18 Old 05-01-2008, 09:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by mom0810 View Post
It is something that happens a lot. It's like an electrical sensation in your brain. A zap. Like it takes a second for your head to catch up with your eyes. Something like that. They go away after two weeks or so.
yeah...it just feels like your brain is kind of *blip* when you turn your head or anything...its very common when starting, skipping a dose, stopping suddenly, etc.

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#12 of 18 Old 05-01-2008, 10:23 PM
 
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What happened to me was that for about three days, whenever I relaxed (like in bed or laying on the couch), I would get this electric-feeling zap in my brain. The last night it happened, I was in bed. It was really strong and seemed to extend through my whole body a few times. It felt like I had just gotten shocked and I even had a bit of dissociation for a few minutes.

Is this normal?

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#13 of 18 Old 05-01-2008, 10:36 PM
 
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I've heard of this as a discontinuation symptom, but I had this after taking one tablet of Effexor and (coupled with a myriad of other symptoms) decided not to take it again.

So it seems to be something that happens...

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#14 of 18 Old 05-26-2008, 09:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mom0810 View Post
STOP the 5 HTP. This could be the root of the problems. Whenever I started feeling bad, some chocolate and soda (caffeine?) helped it go right away.

I've heard Benadryl is helpful for withdrawals.
(NOTE: I have taken Zoloft in the past, but my experience is mostly with Effexor, which I know is different, but I still wanted to chime in.)

I agree. When I have Effexor withdrawals I have used Excedrin and caffeine and it helps with these head aches a lot. For some reason the extra caffeine really helps (Excedrin actually already contains caffeine, but when I have these type of headaches I need to add more).

Benadryl is really awesome during these times as well. It helps with the odd side effects, brain zapping, nausea, it also helps me feel better with my balance which is totally off when I am withdrawing.

I've tried to go off of Effexor several times, and I'm still currently on 75mg a day. I used to take 150mg. When ever I go lower than 25mg I get seriously suicidal, so I haven't been able to kick it yet. I didn't want to bum you out with that information. I just wanted you to keep a close eye on your emotions.

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#15 of 18 Old 05-26-2008, 10:47 PM
 
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I've tried to go off of Effexor several times, and I'm still currently on 75mg a day. I used to take 150mg. When ever I go lower than 25mg I get seriously suicidal, so I haven't been able to kick it yet. I didn't want to bum you out with that information. I just wanted you to keep a close eye on your emotions.
Such interesting info about what helps with withdrawal.

Trinity, did you feel suicidal before you went on Effexor? I wonder if that is a feeling that will eventually go away when you go through the withdrawal? What does your doc have to say about that? It is kind of scary, but the way these meds can help, sometimes you need 'em anyway. Also just wondering if you are weaning in a super gradual way, whether that would make a difference (vs. in a more standard way).

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#16 of 18 Old 05-26-2008, 10:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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well, i'm finally off it. i decided after about two weeks of 5mg to just stop cold turkey and tough it out. my therapist said she could prescribe me a low dose of prosac and then wean me off that, but i just wanted to be DONE.

from start of weaning to finish it took me about two months, a month of which i felt really bad. my main symptoms were headaches, brain zaps, feeling 'out of it' and nauseated. the brain feelings were the worst, and also the rebound anxiety. i became very anxious during the whole weaning period. the two weeks where i was completely off of it were hard. there were a couple of days where i thought i was not going to make it and almost wanted to start taking it again because the headaches and dizzyness and brain zaps were so bad. i did take ativan to get me through the worst days.

i'm glad i did it though. it feels GREAT to be off it. i feel like i kind of forgot who i was...although it did help with anxiety it had numerous other side effects that for me were not worth it. i know for other people the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. i actually have a libido again which is GREAT!

my therapist said most people get off zoloft no problem, even going cold turkey from 50 or 25 mg. i am one of the supposed 'minority' who has problems with it. i also had ALL the side effects when starting it and any time i increased my dose at all, which i guess is rare.

i hope you can get off the effexor, trinity. i have heard that effexor and paxil are really awful to get off of.

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#17 of 18 Old 05-27-2008, 12:22 AM
 
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Such interesting info about what helps with withdrawal.

Trinity, did you feel suicidal before you went on Effexor? I wonder if that is a feeling that will eventually go away when you go through the withdrawal? What does your doc have to say about that? It is kind of scary, but the way these meds can help, sometimes you need 'em anyway. Also just wondering if you are weaning in a super gradual way, whether that would make a difference (vs. in a more standard way).
Since I'm so greatly effected by the side effects (if I accidentally miss a dose I feel it within a couple of hours) I took time to wean myself off of the Effexor. I started in February (I was on 150mg a day) and in April was when I finally was down to 37.5mg. I was on that lowest dose for less than a week when when I became suicidal.

In the past I've been suicidal before, but not where my brain was actively thinking of how to end my life. I know this isn't me, I know it's the combination of my brain chemistry and drug withdrawal. So I wasn't afraid that I would try to hurt myself, because I want to live. I then went back up to 75mg and the suicidal feelings are gone. So I'm staying with that dose. Which I guess is an improvement, since I used to take 150mg.

I know I am a person who will need medication for life. In a way I hate and love Effexor at the same time. It has greatly changed my life, yet the side effects are brutal. I've gained 40 pounds while being on this drug. I have zero need or want for human contact. Which is a huge 180 from who I used to be. But I am more active on this drug. I get more done. I am a better parent. My moods are more stable. So there is the good and the bad.

My hope of going off of the drug was to try to loose weight, so it was vanity based. I'm currently a size 18, and I'm coming to the conclusion there are far worse things than being overweight. Plus threw a lot of internet research I stumbled upon a weight loss program that is used by those who have gained weight/can't loose weight while on antidepressants. It only works for about 35% of those who try it, but it's worth a shot.

I'm glad there are medications that help with mental health. I just wish that the doctors prescribing them would talk to us more about the possible side effects before hand. I haven't met one doctor that has believed that my side effects while on, and while withdrawing are real. Or they say that I'm in a very small minority. But this small minority we're in a lot of pain. We're stuck on a drug we may never be able to stop taking. I was never told that any of this was even slightly possible. They said take this drug, if it doesn't work we'll try something else. That was almost 4 years ago now.


Lohagrace I'm so glad your feeling better. I'm so happy you were able to get threw this. YAY!

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#18 of 18 Old 05-27-2008, 02:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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BIG hugs, trinity. i have read a few websites about effexor withdrawl and it is scary. one blog i read really freaked me out. the med companies are not being honest with docs. i think the psychs (not family drs) who prescribe effexor take it VERY seriously. my therapist said she would not put anyone on it unless it was a last resort. she said discontinuation is very real and very bad. paxil is the same way. she said she will always try prozac or zoloft first because the side effects arent as bad and they are easier to get off. she is a Psych Nurse practitioner and pretty much all she does all day is deal with people's meds, so she should know. any doc who says its not real is talking out their a#@.

i hope you are able to get the outcome you are looking for, either way. <<<<<HUGS>>>>>>

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