Sertraline Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Share This Post

Sertraline, an FDA-approved generic antidepressant medication that is also sold under the brand name Zoloft, is a popular drug that is used for the treatment of major depressive disorder (major depression), some types of anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorders, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and some eating disorders, as well as a number of other mental health conditions. 

Like other drugs in its class, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), discontinuing your use of sertraline abruptly can cause significant withdrawal symptoms. Other SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), paroxetine (Paxil), and escitalopram (Lexapro)

Whether sertraline isn’t working for you and you want to change drugs, or your symptoms have improved and you’re ready to stop taking sertraline, here’s what you need to know about sertraline withdrawal.

Who is likely to experience symptoms of sertraline withdrawal?

All SSRIs are associated with withdrawal symptoms due to their long-acting effects on brain chemistry; however, the rate at which withdrawal symptoms appear varies from medication to medication and person to person. 

Sertraline has a short half-life of about one day, which means that discontinuation symptoms associated with the medication appear more quickly. However, due to the slow changes in brain chemistry that occur, people are most likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they have been taking sertraline for a period of four weeks or longer. 

Your sertraline withdrawal experience will also vary depending on how long you have been taking the drug, what dose of the medication you take, and your personal medical history. 

What are the symptoms of sertraline withdrawal?

Sertraline withdrawal effects begin to occur as your body and brain react to the lower levels of the drug in your system. 

The most common sertraline withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Sensory disturbances
  • Insomnia
  • Imbalance
  • Anxiety or agitation

SSRIs in general are associated with similar withdrawal symptoms, but each patient will experience these antidepressant withdrawal side effects differently. 

Common symptoms of SSRI withdrawal include:

  • Changes to motor control, including tremors, difficulty controlling movement of the mouth, and unsteady gait
  • Digestive upset, including nauseous, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite
  • Flu-like symptoms, including headache, fatigue, muscle aches, and chills
  • Instability, including feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Mood changes, including anxiety, panic, depression, anger, mood swings, suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Sleep problems, including nightmares, insomnia, vivid dreams, and unusual dreams
  • Feelings of “electrical shock” or “zaps” in your brain

What is the timeline for sertraline withdrawal?

Because sertraline has a short half life compared to other SSRIs, the amount of the drug in your bloodstream drops drastically very quickly. As a result, you can expect to experience sertraline withdrawal symptoms within just a few days of stopping your use of the medication. Most people begin to experience symptoms of sertraline withdrawal when about 90 percent of the drug has left their body, which typically occurs after about three to four days.

While sertraline withdrawal symptoms develop relatively quickly, unfortunately, they don’t necessarily go away as fast as they begin. It is common for people experiencing sertraline withdrawal to have symptoms anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after stopping their dose of the drug, but studies have found that withdrawal symptoms can last even longer in some cases. 

What treatment is available for sertraline withdrawal?

The best way to minimize your experience of sertraline withdrawal symptoms is to talk with your doctor about how to discontinue the drug. Your doctor will likely recommend a lengthy taper to gradually reduce your dose of the medication over time, ranging anywhere from several weeks to several months. 

Your doctor may recommend tapering your dose well past the therapeutic point and all the way down to zero, as this appears to be the best way to minimize symptoms. 

If you are still experiencing sertraline withdrawal symptoms while tapering down your dose of the drug, you can try taking over the counter remedies for aches, pains, and insomnia; getting regular exercise to boost your mood; engaging in psychotherapy; and finding social support.

Summary

The short half life of sertraline, also known by the brand name Zoloft, causes withdrawal symptoms of the medication to appear within just a few days of stopping your dose of the drug. You can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms like flu-like symptoms, nausea, sensory disturbances, insomnia, imbalance, anxiety, or agitation for up to several weeks after discontinuing the drug. 

There are support groups available to help individuals suffering from antidepressant discontinuation syndrome or withdrawal symptoms from common medications including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). 

If you're ready to discontinue the use of Zoloft, seek medical advice from a healthcare professional. 

Sources:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306460318308347?via%3Dihub#bb0035 

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-1/sertraline-oral/details 

https://www.healthline.com/health/sertraline-oral-tablet

Sesame Care

Find the best price for great doctors and specialists

  • Thousands of doctors and specialists
  • $13,000,000+ saved by patients
  • 95% patient satisfaction
  • 4.3 on TrustPilot
     

Popular Destinations

Health

Medication

Telehealth Reviews

Shop

Pharmacist Membership

About Us

Pharmacy Near Me

Recent Articles

Share On:

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

More To Explore

Cerebral Review: Online Depression & Anxiety Treatment

Today, we’re deep diving with a Cerebral review to give you some insider info to help you narrow down your choices.

What are the signs of Depression?

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of depression as well as some treatment options for this condition.

Can You Use Gabapentin For Anxiety?

While Neurontin is the most common brand name for gabapentin, other forms (such as Horizant and Gralise) may be prescribed depending on the specific

Zoloft and Weight Loss: Everything You Need To Know

When it comes to Zoloft and weight loss, here’s everything you need to know.

What is Zoloft?

If you have been recently diagnosed with depression and are given Zoloft, you may want to know how the medication works, what common side

What is Venlafaxine HCL ER?

Common mental illnesses like major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder affect millions of Americans every year. While many different treatment options

Using Prozac With Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Prozac has become perhaps the most well-known antidepressant in the United States since its approval for the treatment of depression in 1986. Since then,

How Long Does Clonazepam Stay in Your System?

Clonazepam is a popular medication that is most commonly associated with treatment for panic disorder, but the medication was originally developed as a treatment

What is Sertraline and What are the Side Effects?

Sertraline is the generic form of Zoloft, a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs like

Turn On, Tune In, and…. Heal Your Brain? Psychedelics Return as Potential Therapy for Mental Health Disorders

Before they fell out of favor over half a century ago, psychedelic drugs, like psilocybin and LSD, were studied for various psychiatric diseases such

How Long Does Alprazolam Stay in Your System?

Alprazolam is a fast-acting medication, but exactly how long alprazolam stays in your body varies tremendously based on the form of the medication taken,

Paxil vs Zoloft: Differences, Similarities and Which is Better

Paxil and Zoloft are both popular Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved antidepressants that are used to treat a wide range of mental health conditions.

A Supplement for Stress? The Science Behind Adaptogens

Stress is part of all our lives. Adaptogens are a group of herbal supplements studied throughout history as a way to improve the body’s

Does Buspirone Cause Weight Gain?

Many antidepressants can cause weight gain as a side effect. Buspirone may cause an altered appetite as a side effect, which can lead to

Duloxetine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Duloxetine withdrawal is very common and well documented, affecting nearly half of all patients. Common withdrawal symptoms include dizziness, headaches, and nausea, and symptoms

Cymbalta vs. Prozac: Comparison Guide

Cymbalta and Prozac are commonly prescribed medications to treat mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder. The medications are similarly effective, although one

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

Ativan is a commonly prescribed prescription drug that is used by millions of Americans for anxiety, insomnia, and seizure disorders. It is the brand

Why is Mental Health Important?

As the saying goes, “There is no health without mental health,” but why is mental health so important? The reality is that although we

BuSpar: What is it? Uses, Costs, Benefits, and Doses

If you’re one of 40 million American adults suffering from an anxiety disorder or experiencing symptoms of anxiety, you might think that your battle

What are Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotics? 

Long-acting injectable (LAI) antipsychotics have been shown to prevent psychosis relapse in patients with schizophrenia. To combat poor medication adherence, LAIs are a great