Zoloft is the brand name for 'sertraline' or sertraline hydrochloride. It belongs to the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It is basically a type of antidepressant. So, Zoloft along with other SSRIs are primarily used for the treatment of major or clinical depression in adults. Compared to tricyclic antidepressants, the side effects of SSRIs like sertraline are usually less pronounced.
Along with depression, sertraline is also used for the treatment of panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder in both adults and children. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) are some other conditions for which Zoloft can be prescribed. However, it can cause several side effects like many other antidepressants, and its discontinuation can produce some withdrawal symptoms.
The withdrawal symptoms associated with this drug can occur when it is discontinued abruptly or its dosage is reduced all of a sudden. The withdrawal symptoms can appear within 1 to 10 days after reducing the dosage or the complete withdrawal of the medication. The withdrawal symptoms more commonly appear after a sudden discontinuation of the drug. These symptoms are more or less similar to the withdrawal or discontinuation symptoms associated with other SSRI drugs.
But compared to many other SSRIs, the half-life of Zoloft is much shorter. In other words, the drug does not remain in the body for a long time once it is discontinued. This is the reason why the withdrawal symptoms associated with this drug appear quickly. The half-life of Zoloft is about one day, which means that half of the drug is metabolized by the body in one day. Usually, the withdrawal symptoms can appear within a day or two after discontinuing the drug, and last for a few weeks. But in some instances, the symptoms can reduce slowly over a period of time, and take up to one month or more to subside completely.
The Withdrawal Symptoms
The most common withdrawal symptoms are, anxiety, agitation, irritability, lightheadedness, muscle pain, tremors, nausea, headaches, weakness or excessive tiredness, dizziness, confusion, and insomnia. Apart from these, some individuals can experience vomiting, a high-grade fever, nightmares, seizures, hallucinations, and abdominal discomforts, following the sudden withdrawal of Zoloft.
Another common symptom of withdrawal is 'brain zap', which is described quite differently by different individuals. In general, the term is used to refer to an electric shock- or jolt-like sensation. In addition to this, some other possible symptoms of withdrawal are, aggression, poor concentration, tinnitus, flu-like symptoms, stomach cramps, and worsened or rebound depression. Many people can also experience loss of appetite, and weight loss or unexplained weight gain after discontinuing the use of this antidepressant.
The withdrawal symptoms associated with Zoloft can gradually resolve on their own over a period of time. During this period, you can manage the symptoms with regular physical activity, and a balanced diet. To minimize the withdrawal symptoms, it is better to reduce the dosage slowly before finally discontinuing the drug. If the symptoms of withdrawal become intolerable, or if you experience rebound depression, then consider to take the help of your physician.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.