Zoloft® is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a type of drug used to treat psychological disorders like depression and anxiety. Reducing the dosage or stopping treatment with an SSRI like Zoloft® can cause adverse side effects. Zoloft® withdrawal symptoms most commonly include gastrointestinal side effects like nausea. Other common complaints are headache, fatigue, and anxiety.
SSRIs like Zoloft® are the most common medical treatment for depression. They work by blocking the reuptake of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, into brain cells called neurons. This forces the serotonin to communicate with the neuron for a longer period of time.
Zoloft® withdrawal symptoms are similar to the side effects people experience when they first start treatment with an SSRI. There is a significant amount of serotonin in the digestive system, so starting or stopping an SSRI can cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Another common side effect is sexual dysfunction.
SSRI discontinuation syndrome, the cause of Zoloft® withdrawal symptoms, happens when the dose of a medication like Zoloft® is reduced or stopped. Typically, the adverse symptoms occur one to three days after stopping or reducing the medication, and they usually persist for less than two weeks. These symptoms are usually mild and short lived.
The most common Zoloft® withdrawal symptoms are dizziness, nausea and vomiting, headache, and lethargy. Psychological symptoms such as anxiety and irritability may also be present. Severe psychological side effects are rare and typically only occur if a dose is stopped entirely.
Zoloft® withdrawal symptoms can be caused by missing a dose during a regular course of treatment, so it’s important for patients to take their medication regularly. SSRIs like Zoloft® can take several weeks to start working, so patients should continue taking their medication even if they don’t see signs of improvement. Treatment with Zoloft® or another SSRI should never be stopped without consulting a physician.
To prevent Zoloft® withdrawal symptoms, physicians should taper the dose gradually when a patient is ready to stop taking the medication. Physicians may also want to reassure patients that the withdrawal symptoms will be relatively mild and will not last long. Educating patients about the importance of following physician instructions with medications such as Zoloft® may also help.
Zoloft® and other SSRIs have been proven effective at treating depression and anxiety. They may also be used for other psychological conditions such as eating disorders or obsessive compulsive disorder. Typically, the side effects from discontinuing an SSRI are mild, and are generally not a reason to avoid SSRI drugs if a person is depressed.