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Sertraline withdrawal does not cause symptoms of addiction, such as cravings. However, sertraline (Zoloft) can cause other withdrawal symptoms when stopped abruptly. Furthermore, quitting without tapering or quitting abruptly may also cause depression or anxiety symptoms to return.

How Long Do Sertraline Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Withdrawal symptoms usually develop within five days of stopping antidepressants like sertraline, according to the National Health Service (NHS), and the symptoms can last for up to six weeks. Experts refer to this event as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptoms of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome from quitting sertraline suddenly can include: 

  • flu-like symptoms, such as lethargy, headache, and sweating, 
  • insomnia or other sleep problems, 
  • nausea, 
  • dizziness and other balance problems, and/or 
  • a prickling, tingling sensation on the skin (paresthesia).

Precautions

Quitting sertraline abruptly increases the risk of withdrawal symptoms, but even those who taper off their use of sertraline may experience such symptoms. Research suggests reducing sertraline dosages by 50 mg every 5 to 7 days with a final dosage of 25 to 50 mg daily can help patients avoid antidepressant discontinuation syndrome.

Furthermore, the risk for withdrawal symptoms increases the longer someone takes sertraline. Lastly, antidepressants with shorter half-lives present a higher risk for withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment Options

Treatment for severe withdrawal typically focuses on relieving uncomfortable symptoms. In some cases, it may be necessary to restart sertraline at a lower dose then taper off with increasingly lower doses. In those cases where the patient does not tolerate the tapering process, the medical provider may substitute sertraline with an antidepressant that has a longer half-life, such as fluoxetine (Prozac). Some patients may find cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based therapies helpful.

FAQ

What are the side effects of coming off sertraline?

Stopping sertraline abruptly may cause antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, which causes flu-like symptoms, insomnia or other sleep problems, nausea, dizziness, and/or a prickling, tingling sensation on the skin.

How long does sertraline withdrawal last?

Withdrawal symptoms from sertraline may begin within 5 days of discontinuation of the medication, and they can persist for up to six weeks.

How long do antidepressant withdrawal symptoms last?

Withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants like sertraline can last up to six weeks, according to the National Health Service (NHS).

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute or replace medical advice. If you have an emergency or a serious medical question, please contact a medical professional or call 911 immediately. To see our full medical disclaimer, visit our Terms of Use page.


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