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Author Topic: Just got prescribed Zoloft(SSRI), wondering what to expect. Please answer!  (Read 460 times)

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Offline gthall11

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I have been having heart palpitations for about a year now which has caused me a ton of anxiety.  Essentially I've just had a constant awareness of my own heartbeat which has slowly started to drive me crazy.  Its all I think about and I can't even focus in my college classes without checking my heart rate, which then leads to anxiety because I think my heart is beating too hard/too fast.  I've had some bad anxiety attacks because of this.  I'm also pretty thin(6 feet tall, 150 pounds), and because of this I can actually see my heartbeat in my chest, and it actually vibrates my shirt.  I can also see my pulse in my neck when I look in the mirror.  About a month ago I finally went to my doctor and he said my heart sounded completely healthy.  My BP reading was 143 over 60 with a pulse rate of 62.  This caused to me to freak out even more because I thought I had a serious problem.  The last physical I had done in August of 2012 my BP reading was 112 over 61 with a pulse rate of 62.( so only my systolic pressure was different.)  My doctor told me it was just anxiety of being at the doctor's office(white-coat syndrome).  I was still very worried and although he said it was unneeded, he set up an appointment for me with a cardiologist.  The cardiologist did an EKG test and said my heart is structurally good and that there was nothing to worry about.  Somehow, this all still was not enough to stop the anxiety(and palpitations) and really just get my mind off it.  Which this is what both my doctor and the cardiologist told me to do: just ignore it.  Both believed this was all because of anxiety.  I was still obsessing over my heartbeat and constantly searching online, trying to self-diagnose myself with some sort of medical issue.  Yesterday I convinced myself that I either had a thyroid problem that was causing the palpitations or possibly an iron-deficiency.  I got a blood test done earlier today and my thyroid and iron/hemoglobin levels are both fine.  My doctor is now almost completely positive this is just anxiety/OCD.(obsessing over thoughts about my heartbeat.)  He wrote me a prescription for Zoloft (SSRI) today and said that he thinks it will really help.  He only wants me to take it for 4-6 months and then to slowly taper off until I don't need it anymore.  So I'm just wondering exactly what to expect and how long it will take to start working.  Will I just stop thinking about my heart eventually or will it take a lot more work on my own part?  Do I need to make a point of not checking my pulse and not looking at my shirt vibrating/etc.?  He is starting me out at the smallest daily dose(25mg), and this has me wondering if this even enough to make a difference.  This apparent anxiety has been debilitating for me and has started to ruin my life.  I really hope this helps!  I've also been considering setting up an appointment with a psychologist so that I'm getting therapy along with medication.  I really just want to go back to the way I was before I developed this disorder! I'm sure some of you others can relate, and thanks for reading my story!
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Offline moralthunder

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Re: Just got prescribed Zoloft(SSRI), wondering what to expect. Please answer!
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2014, 10:53:28 AM »
I take zoloft (or more specifically, the generic version of sertraline), so this is from my personal experience. Firsty, you've heard it before, and you're about to hear it again... Medication affects everybody differently. When I started on it, my anxiety shot up, I couldn't sleep, and my skin felt as though molten lava was being poured on it. This lasted two days, and I stuck it out. After these two days, my psychological state returned to its typical level of anxiety, and my skin no longer burned. After one week a fairly noticeable drop in negative thinking patterns and thought loops was noted. After a month I was somewhat sedated and able to function fairly well in regular life again. My anxiety was softened, but was by no means "gone". I also lost all traces of my sex-drive. After a year my anxiety/OCD had practically cleared up, and my sex drive found a way to shine through the effects of the meds. I assume this is just an issue of tolerance. I plan to get off it soon, I only lack the courage.
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Offline Stressed Jumper

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Re: Just got prescribed Zoloft(SSRI), wondering what to expect. Please answer!
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2014, 12:45:38 PM »
I have been on Zoloft for about five months now for my GAD and it has worked wonders in the long run.  That being said the start up was no fun at all.  I got every side effect in the book (although they mostly went away within three weeks) and nearly gave up.  With help from the awesome folks on this forum I stuck it out and am so glad I did!  So here is a breakdown of what happened to me, although your experience may be very different:

Week 1 (25mg Zoloft):  slight anxiety increase, few low grade headaches

Week 2 (upped to 50 mg):  crazy anxiety, nausea, headaches, night sweats, insomnia, bizarre dreams/nightmares, hot flashes, tingling/burning skin, sweaty hands and feet :dazed:

Week 3 (still 50mg): all above symptoms still present but to a lesser extent

Week 4:  anxiety the same as before starting Zoloft, nausea gone, headaches gone, night sweats less frequent, dreams more vivid but "normal", hot flashes almost gone, tingling/burning skin gone, hands and feet still sweaty

Week 5: Anxiety greatly reduced, finally feeling like I did before my intro into the not-so-wonderful-world of anxiety, occasional sweaty hands (but I live in Florida so that may have something to do with it)

Week 6: Why didn't I do this 2 years ago??   :happy0151:

When I started on Zoloft my doc also gave me a scrip for .25mg Xanax to take as needed to help deal with the start up anxiety and it was a huge help.  (Please note that if my med doses seem low it is because they are. I am a "cheap date" and very petite to boot so please don't compare our doses.)  Once the Zoloft kicked in I tapered off the Xanax with no problems. If your doc hasn't already given you a benzo you may want to talk to them about it.  Another thing to remember with SSRI's is to up your dose slowly until you reach your therapeutic level, usually in either 12.5mg or 25 mg increments depending on what you can tolerate.

I hate to say that you may feel worse before you feel better but if that does happen please try to stick it out, the long term benefits (getting your life back in my case) are worth a few weeks of feeling yucky.

P.S. I was a heart worrier too; always checking my pulse, having palpitations, and afraid my heart would stop even though I am only 33 and in perfect health.  Once I reached my therapeutic dose I just stopped feeling the need to check my pulse...never really thought about it or made a conscious effort not to, just didn't feel the worry/need anymore.

Hang in there and keep us posted!
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Offline gthall11

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Well I've been on Zoloft for 6 weeks now, and I upped the dosage to 50mg after 2 weeks. A few days after I upped the dose to 50mg I noticed a drastic loss of my anxiety.  Literally I am actually able to function normally again.  I had gotten to the point that I could not even talk to people sometimes because I was feeling so anxious.  I had no bad start up side effects at all.  I didn't feel like I was going completely insane because of hearing my heartbeat all the time.  So my anxiety is pretty well gone just 4 weeks into treatment, thank the lord...but at what cost?  I have literally lost every ounce of motivation to get anything done.  I constantly feel apathetic...I haven't been going to my college classes and I have gotten really behind.  It takes me like 15 minutes just to find the energy to get up off the couch when I'm thirsty or hungry.  I can't get out of bed in the morning, and I've been sleeping through my alarm missing classes.  I just don't care about anything...I guess I would say I'm slowly becoming a zombie.  I honestly can't tell what is worse....the horrible, debilitating anxiety, or just feeling like a careless zombie.  I finally called my doctor about it a couple days ago and he switched me to Lexapro.  I still took Zoloft today, and not the Lexapro, because I'm somewhat afraid of my anxiety coming back.  Tomorrow I am going to for sure stop the Zoloft and start the Lexapro.  I just don't know what to do anymore though, because I hate the idea of taking any medication that affects chemicals in the brain.  I don't want to mask the problem, I want to be cured.  I'm starting to think more and more that my anxiety disorder was caused by all the binge drinking and weed smoking I did my senior year of high school, and first year at college.(2011-2013)  I've drastically cut back my weed smoking, because it got to a point where it only gave me horrible anxiety attacks.  I hardly ever smoke it anymore because of this. (I've only smoked a few times in the past year or so, when I was drunk).  I've cut back on my drinking a lot as well.  I'm almost convinced that smoking and drinking caused my disorder....because I never had any problems before it.  Of course I did not tell any of this stuff to my doctor, because he has been my primary care physician since I was a baby.  I am starting to think more and more that I should tell him.  He also stated me on adderall a couple months ago, which I am trying to wean myself off of completely at this point.  Before I started the Zoloft, adderall made my anxiety 10x worse.  I really just think I need to have a good 6 months or so of being completely drug free.  If the Lexapro has the same effect on my motivation that the Zoloft did...I think I am going to just go off it.  Sorry for just kind of rambling on and on, but I just have so many questions.  There's one last thing I have to say.  Right around the time I started the Zoloft, I noticed more hair than usual falling out.  I'd really never noticed any hair falling out before.  It's not coming out in huge clumps or anything like that, but I've noticed it on the bottom of the shower and stuff.  My doctor think this is just from all the anxiety I was experiencing before I started the Zoloft, and that it should stop within the next couple months.  I've also lost 15 pounds in the past 4 weeks.  Yesterday at work, two of my bosses even called me back into the office and told me I was looking really skinny and that they were worried about me.  I played it off by saying that I'd just been feeling a little sick recently, but it really freaked me out.  I was already very skinny for my height( 6 foot tall, 150 pounds), but now I am down to 135....I've also been noticing some stomach problems/diarrhea.  My mom has celiac disease(gluten intolerance), and I'm now starting to worry that maybe this anxiety triggered the disease in me.  Well sorry for sort of ranting, but I just have a lot on my mind right now about these medications and my anxiety.  Hopefully someone out there has a few answers for me!  Thanks so much for taking the time to read all of this! :)
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Offline VeryScary

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Late comer adding my two cents. First of all, I had a poop incident with Zoloft. There, I said it. This was pretty much the only initial side effect, but it was a hell of a side effect.

Otherwise, what Zoloft did for me was make me stop caring. This eventually became a problem, because I felt like I didn't care about anything. Now it did not make me a robot where I didn't notice this - I did notice it very clearly, I never lost my anxiety about the meds and after nine months, I went off of them. I also lost my sex drive; I was told Wellbutrin can fix that, but I was too freaked out about trying any other medications.

I've been off for about nine months and recently had some pretty bad relapses. Prozac has been suggested. I'm not willing.

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Offline stacirn

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I was on Zoloft 50mg from 2003 through Jan 2014 for panic disorder.  It gave me my life back!  I don't remember having side effects even in the first few weeks (started 25mg for first week).  I went off Zoloft in January (big mistake) because I had a miscarriage and wanted to get pregnant again.  My OB told me not to stop it but I didn't listen.  I went off of Zoloft just as I got promoted to a much more stressful management job.  My anxiety became debilitating!  Not sleeping, not eating, racing thoughts, crying, exhaustion...... I went to my boss and she was great, and now I am taking time off.  I started taking Zoloft again 11 days ago and my God..... awful side effects!  I feel severe anxiety, no appetite, diarrhea.... And yesterday had a "poop incident" as Very Scary described it above, LOL!  Ugh, I just want to feel normal again.  Today I feel a little better, but that can change from hour to hour.  I'm going to see a therapist today and hoping that will help as well.  One day at a time for now!
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