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Zoloft Withdrawal & Detox

Although Zoloft has a relatively low addiction profile when compared to other prescription medications, especially when compared to opioids and benzodiazepines, there is still a possibility of developing a dependence on the drug.

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As a result, Zoloft (sertraline) comes with the risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing use. Withdrawal symptoms from Zoloft include dizziness, nausea, shakiness, and lethargy, among others. A tapered approach to withdrawal is generally recommended.

Zoloft Uses

Zoloft is in a class of drugs called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). The medication increases serotonin levels in the brain, helping to treat depression. Serotonin is associated with mood and sleep regulation, as well as feelings of wellness and well-being. 

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As a result, the brain can become dependent on Zoloft. This dependence can be compounded when the medication is taken outside of prescribed guidelines. 

Zoloft withdrawal occurs when the drug is stopped suddenly, as the body and brain readjust to normal everyday activity. Withdrawal length can vary depending on the individual and how long they have taken Zoloft.

What Causes Withdrawal From Zoloft?

Zoloft withdrawal can result in undesirable and uncomfortable symptoms that occur largely because of chemical changes that occur in the brain when quitting the drug. 

As the body adjusts to changes that have been caused by taking Zoloft as well as readjustment to normal activity, there is an imbalance that can have unwanted effects both physically and mentally.

Common Zoloft Withdrawal Symptoms

Considering that Zoloft has a shorter half-life than many other prescription drugs (approximately 24 hours), Zoloft only has a low to moderate risk of causing withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing use.

It is not recommended for individuals who have abused Zoloft for a prolonged period of time to quit use suddenly.

Zoloft withdrawal symptoms can start to set in around one to three days after stopping use. Withdrawal symptoms may include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Mood swings 
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shakiness
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Factors Related to Withdrawal Symptoms

There are multiple factors that can determine whether or not someone will experience Zoloft withdrawal as well as symptom duration and intensity.

Withdrawal severity is influenced by the length of time someone has been taking Zoloft as well as the average dosage. With higher doses and longer duration of use, severe and prolonged withdrawal is more likely.

A person’s physiology influences the withdrawal process. Factors that come into play include the following:

  • Age
  • Body size
  • Diet
  • Hydration levels
  • Mental health conditions

Since Zoloft is generally prescribed to treat depression, people may experience a resurgence of depressive symptoms during withdrawal. This is sometimes referenced as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Mental health care is essential during this time to ensure depression is properly managed.

How Long Does Withdrawal Last? 

Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to multiple weeks when it comes to Zoloft. 

Many individuals will make a full recovery within a few weeks. However, individuals who have used Zoloft outside of prescribed guidelines and are more susceptible to withdrawal symptoms might experience discomfort that can last for months or even years. This is generally referred to as protracted withdrawal.

Zoloft Withdrawal Timeline 

Zoloft withdrawal tends to set in within a few days. Early symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, shaking, sweating, and insomnia.

Here is a timeline of what to expect:

After 1 Week

The most severe symptoms related to Zoloft withdrawal will generally be experienced within one to two weeks. Body aches will be common as well as depression and insomnia. Drug cravings may also begin to set in if they haven’t already.

3 Weeks to a Month

For many individuals, withdrawal symptoms tend to subside within two to three weeks. When quitting sertraline, withdrawal symptoms may last for longer. Some individuals may experience certain withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, and drug cravings, for months or even years after discontinuing use. 

How to Safely Detox From Zoloft

It is not recommended for individuals who have abused Zoloft for a prolonged period of time to quit use suddenly. Intense withdrawal issues can occur. If an individual stops cold turkey at home, medical intervention may be necessary due to severe withdrawal symptoms.

Medical professionals recommend tapering off antidepressants like Zoloft. This entails weaning the individual off the drug over a period of time rather than quitting cold turkey.

Medically assisted detox provides a variety of benefits. A doctor will be able to observe the process and treat any symptoms or situations that arise accordingly. Medications may be prescribed that make the process easier without compromising the detox protocol.

Seek medical assistance before attempting Zoloft detox. This ensures you’ll stay safe and successfully make it through withdrawal without relapse.

Updated February 7, 2024
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