Zoloft withdrawal does not cause typical 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 Zoloft Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
According to the National Health Service (NHS), within five days of stopping antidepressants like Zoloft, symptoms can appear and then last for up to six weeks. This phenomenon is known as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome.
Symptoms of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome from quitting Zoloft suddenly can include:
- flu-like symptoms, such as lethargy, headache, and sweating,
- insomnia or other sleep problems,
- dizziness and other balance problems, and/or
- a prickling, tingling sensation on the skin (paresthesia).
Quitting Zoloft abruptly increases the risk of withdrawal symptoms. That said, even those who taper off can still experience such symptoms. As such, 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 for severe withdrawal typically focuses on relieving uncomfortable symptoms. In some cases, it may be necessary to restart Zoloft, this time at a lower dose. Then, the patient would taper off with increasingly lower doses. There are some cases where the patient does not tolerate the tapering process at all. In such cases, 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.
How long does it take to withdraw from Zoloft?
It can take weeks to withdraw from Zoloft, depending on whether the patient tapers the dosages or experiences setbacks associated with severe withdrawal symptoms.
What helps Zoloft withdrawal?
Using medications that alleviate symptoms can help make Zoloft withdrawal more comfortable. In some cases, medical providers recommend restarting Zoloft and slowly reducing doses. In other cases, replacing Zoloft with an antidepressant with a different half-life can help.
What are the side effects of stopping Zoloft cold turkey?
Quitting Zoloft cold turkey can trigger antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, which causes flu-like symptoms, insomnia or other sleep problems, nausea, dizziness, and/or an uncomfortable prickling, tingling sensation on the skin.