Upon my own personal decision to discontinue taking my Zoloft, I was curious as to what I'd be in for. I had gone a few days without taking the medicine in years past, so I was familiar with the "brain zap" feeling, but never to a significant degree. I am in my second week of being completely off Zoloft, and the last 10 days I've experienced just about every emotion in the book.
It was hard for me to find the information and support I needed, aside from this thread, to get through much of the initial effects from quitting my Zoloft. I told myself when I started feeling somewhat normal again (ie able to look at a computer screen without feeling dizzy and sick), I was going to make my own thread to share my experiences (in a rational, logical manner) to help everyone out there who might be going through what I was. Essentially, I decided this specific thread would be the best place because it was the first result upon my google search "quitting Zoloft" when I initially made my decision to quit and this thread already has over 80,000 views (:O).
With that said, I am a 24 year old male, and I have been on Zoloft since the age of 17. I started on 50mg and slowly progressed up to 200mg, of which I've been at for the last few years. I started the medication as the recommendation of my therapist and doctor for mild anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and slight depression. While 50mg was quite sufficient for my diagnosis, at the time I think part of my depression was not liking the person I was (or not "knowing" who I was) and I thought the more medicine I took, the more it could turn me into someone I might actually like. I realize this is a somewhat juvenile assumption, but as I mentioned, I was finishing highschool so my mind hadn't fully matured.
Fast forward 7 years later, and here we are. My plan of action was to half my dose every two weeks, and after 4 weeks, completely stop. So my first two weeks I was at 100mg, and then 50mg, and then stopped all together on Oct. 5th. I tried to keep a journal but only managed one entry (yea I'm not the best at writing thoughts lol!). Regardless, I'm posting that entry from the first week I cut down to 100mg to kind of give some insight of my reasoning and choice of quitting Zoloft.
Sept 15, 2013 - Day 8 (100mg):
It's 8:17 pm in the evening. It's been a week now since I cut my zoloft dosage in half. This week has been a very crazy one, too! Last Sunday I got back from Kansas City. While I had a good time, I had my reoccuring thoughts of "what's wrong with me?" "Why can't I connect or get close to anyone?" That's been my mental state for the last few years or so.
I had always been really into my work that I didn't notice, but now that it's been about a year and a half since leaving my job, I realize I've never been in a relationship. And I think the zoloft has everything to do with this. Nothing is wrong with me, it's that it has turned me into a zombie. My mind has become so numb that even when I try to feel, it feels so meaningless. So that's why I decided I'm making a life changing decision and breaking free of this contraint that's been on myself since highschool, literally 6 years now. I haven't spent any of my adulthood free of this medication, I don't know who I am because I've been a zombie and not able to figure it out.
So here we are Day 8. I've been taking 100mg of the zoloft instead of my normal 200g. Within the first few days, I had sudden mood changes. Things that were sentimental meant more to me and I found myself somewhat weepy over them (lyrics in a song, etc). I wouldn't say it was truly feeling yet, as I think I'm still pretty dependant on the drug. But maybe just glimpses of how I might be able to feel eventually (albeit controlled and not so random). I experienced minor irritability but nothing major.
Today is the first day I've had the brain zaps. I remember these very eerily all the times I missed doses on Zoloft. It's one of the worst types of headaches, your mind just literally has this dizzyness zap that comes and goes with intensity. It hasn't been very dramatic yet thankfully, but definately noticeable. I also feel kind of glazy. My eyes are looking at things but I'm only noticing the very immediate section my eyes are focussed on. Maybe this is part of the distracting aspect of taking the medicine and that perhaps I'm now actually re-learning how to focus again.
From the little bit of reading I've done about discontinuation syndrome, I am starting to realize more and more what I am up against. The fact that I've been on such a high dosage (200mg when the normal recomended max is 150mg I think), and for so long, it's scary and overwhelming for me. I don't really feel like dealing with the physical side effects (especially the brain zaps), but I'm nervous about the mental ones as well. So far I haven't really felt anything intense. I mean, I do have this image in my head of my brain becoming slowly decompressed from the hold that zoloft has had on it for such a long time, and the numbing feeling you get after releasing pressure from something.
I've also realized that I'm in this alone (and I'm not meaning that in a negative way). But honestly, how many people can I talk to face-to-face that are going through exaxtly this same thing. I'll probably look at some of the discussion groups or forums online because I'm sure it's pretty common. But as far as in reality, I think it's best to keep it to myself because people aren't going to understand and will think I'm kinda weird.
I've also lost 9.0lbs so far. I started loosing a little before I started waning down, so it's more like ~4 lbs probably since last week.
So fast forward from that point to Oct. 5th; the first day without taking any medicine. The discontinuation symptoms didn't kick in until the next day, primarily in the evening. The brain zaps were slowly creeping in. I ended up going to sleep really early because by around 7pm I just didn't feel like being awake. I actually slept pretty decently (no different than normal). I awoke for work the next morning, nothing out of the blue. I started the day feeling fine, but by afternoon, the brain zaps started hitting again in full force. (For anyone not familiar, these brain zaps are a very weird dis-pleasure / sensation. It's not the same thing as a headache necessarily, but almost feels like a vibration that pulses in your head.)
By that evening (day 2 of no zoloft), I was starting to feel pretty miserable. Between the intense brain-zaps, irritability, and emotional turbulence, I called it an early night again and went straight to bed. (As mentioned above, through the whole process, my sleep hasn't been affected much. Albeit, I'm going to sleep earlier, I fall asleep in the same time in took before, and I'm able to sleep the full duration of the night.) If anything changed with my sleep, it would be that I'm dreaming a lot more (or maybe just remembering them better?)
The effects mentioned above lasted up until Day 9 (yesterday). Initially I remember having a breakdown on Thurs. evening trying to figure out how much longer I was going to be going through said effects, and reading cases of people talking about it taking them months before they started feeling normal. It wasn't that I wanted to feel "normal" again, it was that I wanted to not feel the brain-zaps, dizziness, irritability, achy, drained feeling, etc that I had been experiencing over the last 9 days.
Fortunately, I am in Day 10 as of today of no Zoloft, and the discontinuation effects have been minimized greatly. A few brain pulse zaps occur infrequently especially if I make fast movements, but for the large part, I'm already feeling a lot better (physically). Mentally and emotionally, I'm not a wreck as I have been, although a little irritable still.
As far as a conclusion, I think it will still take a while before I start finding myself and who I am (and all that good stuff as to why I decided to stop taking Zoloft in the first place). But I atleast wanted to share my immediate experience with quitting the Zoloft so that others who are in the same position or thinking of quitting will have some gauge of what to expect perhaps. As far as my anxiety / ocd / depression creeping back since being off the pill, I have not noticed any difference at this time. That's not to say I was cured, but perhaps just learned of ways to deal with it better while I was on the medication that I hadn't realized until I stopped taking it.
I hope I didn't ramble on too much and hope my post will at the very least help someone who is on the same journey as I am or about to make that jump. I'll try to continue to post my status as time continues and will definitely check back now and again to read how others are doing!
Post Edited (Newme24) : 10/15/2013 5:27:04 PM (GMT-6)