In the United States alone, one in six people take some form of an antidepressant medication, and Zoloft is one of the most commonly prescribed. The chemical composition of Zoloft results in a substance that, like many street drugs, can cause dependency. Getting off, withdrawing or detoxing from Zoloft is often an emotional, mentally draining and physically tough thing to do, but with professional help, it is possible to lead drug-free and more fulfilled life.
What Is Zoloft?
Zoloft is the brand name for sertraline, and it is used to treat a host of mood disorders such as depression, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, so it stabilizes the amount of serotonin that regulates and balances emotions in the brain.
Zoloft comes in tablet and liquid forms. If your doctor decides to prescribe you Zoloft and you take other prescription or over-the-counter medications, let your doctor know what those are since Zoloft is known to interact with some of them.
What Is Zoloft Used For?
Those suffering from any of the mood disorders mentioned above have naturally low serotonin levels. Zoloft works to balance their levels out so that they experience more positive emotions and enjoy things again that they had previously found interesting in life. Zoloft does not make users high; instead, Zoloft takes away the perception of heavy clouds that may have blocked good feelings.
Zoloft is a medication intended for long-term use, so it is not unusual for patients to take it for several months or even years. Zoloft is generally a safe medication to take and can be a godsend for someone suffering from depression. However, there is the risk of developing a Zoloft use disorder. This happens when a person believes that they need Zoloft to function or feel normal or when they become physically dependent on it. Those who misuse Zoloft don’t do it to get high; they overuse Zoloft to cope with daily issues, which can lead to a substance use disorder.
Signs of Zoloft Misuse
Some signs of a Zoloft use disorder are as follows:
- Faking or exaggerating symptoms to get another prescription for Zoloft
- Asking for someone else’s prescription
- Getting a prescription from several different doctors
- Taking larger quantities or more doses than prescribed
- Using Zoloft as a quick fix to problems
- Feeling unable to function normally without taking the drug
Aside from all of the health concerns that come from substance use disorder, the consequences of misuse spread far beyond the user. The user’s family and friends are also affected because they can feel like enablers. They might push hard for their loved one to stop. However, substance use disorder is often hard to stop alone, not only because of triggers all around but also because of the withdrawal symptoms and the discomfort of going through detox.
What Is Zoloft Withdrawal?
As with any drug that is taken long erm, consulting a doctor about decreasing the dosage or deciding to stop taking it is the best advice. Coming off of Zoloft prematurely may cause a relapse of your depression or mood disorder; therefore, following a doctor’s advice to help minimize the chances of this is essential. Otherwise, withdrawal can be quite severe.
Unfortunately, more than half of the people who quit taking antidepressants like Zoloft experience withdrawal signs and symptoms that can be alarming and scary. Suddenly stopping Zoloft causes chemical changes in the brain that can make you physically ill.
What Are Some Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal?
Signs and symptoms of withdrawal can look a lot like depression and anxiety. They can leave you confused as to whether you are actually depressed or are instead going through withdrawal. Withdrawal signs usually start about two to four days after you’ve stopped taking the Zoloft and can last up to a few weeks. The severity of symptoms will depend on the duration of time that Zoloft was used, your dosage and your physiology.
Some signs and symptoms of withdrawal are:
- Motor control issues like tremors, shaking, restless legs and unsteady gait
- Flu-like symptoms like sweating, fever, body aches and chills
- Digestive problems like nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea or appetite loss
- Sleep problems including nightmares, unusual dreams, vivid dreams and insomnia
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or vertigo
- Mood imbalances including anxiety, agitation, panic, suicidal ideation, irritability, anger, mood swings and depression
- Strange sensations like a feeling of shiver or shock to your brain, ringing ears, or pins and needles
- Blood vessel inconsistencies like excessive sweating and flushed skin
Although the signs and symptoms of withdrawal look scary, if you believe that you are ready to stop taking Zoloft and are under a doctor’s care, you do not have to be afraid. A doctor will figure out a timeline for lowering your dose until you are safely and entirely off the medication. The doctors and staff at Granite Recovery Centers know that recovery from Zoloft is accomplished from the inside out. The staff will support you during the withdrawal process and help reduce your symptoms.
Timeline for Getting Off of Zoloft
You should not try to get off of Zoloft on your own. Instead of risking the symptoms of withdrawal, a supervising doctor should give you a tapering schedule. A tapering schedule is a way to gradually reduce your medications and reduce your dose of Zoloft every five to seven days until you no longer take it. How your doctor decides to approach your weaning schedule will be based on your specific case, but it may look something like this: If you started at 200 mg, your doctor might take you down to 150 mg for seven days, followed by a dose of 100 mg for seven days and finally 50 mg for seven days before taking you entirely off Zoloft.
Keeping a tapering calendar in sight as a reminder of the change in dosage date is a good way to stay focused on your goal of weaning off of Zoloft. It’s also a good idea to make a note of your mood throughout the day. This is a concrete way to provide your supervising physician with feedback as to how well the tapering schedule is managing your depression or anxiety. Some other things that you can do to help minimize symptoms include seeing a therapist, staying active, exercising, eating a nutritious diet, staying hydrated and avoiding caffeine.
The Detox Process
Detoxification is an essential and a significant part of a healthy recovery. Detox forces your body to go without a substance that it has become accustomed to. Without any help, you may feel sick, irritable, angry, panicked and a host of other emotions as you give your body less of what it craves. The delicate balance that your brain and body require is restored during the detox process. Your brain must have time to process these chemical changes in order to function correctly. While the process may seem intense, rehab centers are specially equipped to help you.
Granite Recovery Centers will be with you from beginning to end. Our staff members know what you need during this very vulnerable time. You will be monitored to make it less likely that you will relapse during this stage of recovery.
Support will include helping you purge the Zoloft from your system and provide comprehensive care to support your well-being. The detox process typically lasts five to seven days. Your care will be tailored to your specific needs but will begin with an assessment and 24-hour monitoring.
What You Should Look for in a Recovery or Detox Center
When it’s time to take that step towards recovery, look for a rehab program that will meet your needs. Some characteristics to consider when looking for a recovery center are:
- Skill-building sessions
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Exercise and whole-body healing programs
- 12-step curriculum
- Group and individual therapy
- Case management
- Sober living facilities
- Career and education resources
- Daily and weekly workshops
- Gender-specific facilities
At Granite Recovery Centers, support comes from a belief that people afflicted with substance use disorder are not bad people trying to become good people. Rather, they are sick people trying to get well, and this tenet is at the core of what we do.
If you don’t have access to a physician who can set you up with a Zoloft tapering schedule, you may need the additional medical attention that can come from our inpatient services. Being able to live at a Granite Recovery Centers facility for anywhere from 28 to 90 days will allow you to focus on getting any mental health issues and substance use disorder under control before you try to head back into the outside world.
People who have access to quality medical care and a solid support structure outside of a rehab center setting will likely benefit more from our intensive outpatient program. With this schedule, you can still meet school, work or family requirements while integrating your recovery into your daily life.
No matter which treatment program you choose, it’s likely that the cravings for Zoloft will return after detox and therapy. However, learning how to manage the triggers and anxiety will help you stay sober. Therapy sessions will give you the resources to feel confident about avoiding relapse. At Granite Recovery Centers, professionals work to help you mend your whole physical, spiritual, mental and emotional being.
One of the best things about Granite Recovery Centers is that your recovery doesn’t end when you leave the facility. Instead, we have aftercare supportive programs that provide you tools in your fight for sobriety. We provide you with resources and guidance while you continue on your journey. During therapy, you will have developed strategies and techniques that will help you in difficult situations for years to come.
We also offer options for extended care that are structured to support your recovery, and some of those include family involvement in your future. Granite Recovery Centers programs and workshops help educate, support and provide guidance so that your family members learn skills to help you. The support will also help your family take care of themselves as they help you stay on the path to recovery.
Get Help for Zoloft Withdrawal and Recovery
When you’re trapped in a spiral of anxiety and drug use, it can seem like there’s no way out. However, substance use disorder is treatable, and taking the brave step to detox and recover from a Zoloft use disorder is the first step toward getting your life back on track. Granite Recovery Centers can help you take essential steps toward a bright, addiction-free future. Call us today.